Alienation and anomie about a job

It tolls for thee!

Associate Professor Angela writes:

Do you ever wake up in the morning 100% ready to quit your job?  Not to look for another job, but just to walk the hell away?

That was me, at 7 a.m. today.  Do you have any advice on navigating mid-career?

If you post this on your blog, I’m quite sure that some responses will be along the lines of “Hey, I’m a grad student/adjunct/non-academic, and I’d be *happy* to have your problems.  Boo-f^(king-hoo.”  There’s some justification there, to be sure.  But, as I said to recently to a former mentor, I try to be grateful that I have a job.  I’d hate to be on the market in these times.  But “I’m not unemployed” seems like I’m setting the bar too low.  It’s like evaluating someone you’re dating by saying “Well, he’s never been in prison.”

Heh.  I’ve never felt like resigning, but I can relate, Angela.  I was close to where this correspondent is about a year ago, but the advice I got from you readers was really helpful.  In short, in the comments on my post about my mid-career slump, many of you told me to Continue reading

Monday movies: Paddle to the Sea

All of this talk about elementary school makes me remember one of my favorite movies from my school days: Paddle to the Sea (1966). We saw this annually in Great Lakes country where I grew up. And of course, it stars a doll–Kyle Apatagon’s clever creation, “Paddle to the Sea.”

Do you know this movie, or does it stir a distant memory? I find it mesmerizing still–it’s a glimpse of an experience that’s something new for most urban or suburban children. If you have young children in your life please share this movie with them.

American slavery in the elementary school classroom

I’ve been visiting a second-grade classroom this year and talking to the students about early American history.  Back around Thanksgiving time, I gave a talk about Pilgrims and Wampanoags–that was pretty easy for elementary school consumption.  I put together a bunch of PowerPoint slides sixteenth and seventeenth-century drawings and photographs of the re-enactors at Plimoth Plantation, and I invited them to tell me about the similarities and differences they saw between English and Indian material culture:  housing, clothing, and food.  My talk in February was more difficult, because I talked to them about slavery in American history.

First, I drew a timeline from 1600 to 2011 on the board, and showed them exactly how long Africans and African Americans lived in slavery in Anglo-American and U.S. American history (1619-1865).  I drew another line to show the years of segregation and Jim Crow (1865-1964).  That pretty well covered the whole timeline, which was impressive and quite literally jaw-dropping information for them to take in.  Then, I read them a wonderful picture book that illustrates the institution of slavery in terrifying terms that children can understand immediately:  the theft of children from parents.  Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Kadir Nelson is based on the true story of Henry “Box” Brown and his self-emancipation from slavery in 1849.

I was unprepared for the question-and-answer session afterward, when the students really wanted to know why.  Continue reading

Wednesday round-up: How-to edition

Howdy, friends.  I’ve got lots of readin’ and writin’ for my day job to get done today, but fortunately there are other paths to enlightenment on the world-wide non peer-reviewed internets:

And now, from the department of the bloody obvious. . .

Via The Daily Beast:

A study presented this week found that, next to time spent studying outside the classroom, time spent drinking was the most reliable predictor of a student’s grade point average. Todd Wyatt, a doctoral candidate at George Mason University, looked at how today’s busy college students allocate their time between different activities. The research surveyed about 13,900 incoming freshman at 167 schools, and found that certain activities could reliably predict academic success. He performed the study along with his colleague Bill DeJong and presented it this week at the American College Personnel Association conference.

Wyatt found that, after time spent studying, the amount of time a student spent drinking was the strongest predictor of that student’s GPA – even more so than time spent in the classroom. “The more time spent partying with alcohol, there’s a significant decrease in GPA,” said Wyatt. This was true even though various other non-studious activities, like wiling away hours on Facebook, had virtually no effect on grades.

The study’s findings hold true even when narrowed to include only elite schools – big-name universities where students are famous for studying hard and partying hard. Continue reading