Dr. Crazy offers a succinct defense of sabbaticals and research leave for scholars like her–like most of us–who don’t teach at R1s or in Ph.D. granting departments. Once again, she explains why the dichotomy between research and teaching is a false one (emphases mine):
Anyway, I think the reason that the writing has been going smoothly this week… well, there are a few reasons. One of the big reasons is that I’ve spent a lot of time in the past week thinking about teaching. As much as I’m grateful for this sabbatical – and believe me, I am, and it’s been really, really good for me – I think that thinking about teaching helps me as a researcher. If I’m too much in my head – too much in the research place – I lose sight of the fact that the scholarly side of things is about actually communicating with other people. That the sort of scholarship that I like to read teaches me something, and so really, I can think about writing as just a different kind of teaching, and that takes a lot of the pressure off. But a lot of times, I’m in my head. And then I can’t write because I don’t know why I’m writing. And I think my ideas are dumb, and I think there’s no point to any of it. Except here’s the thing: there is a point to what I’m doing. And it translates into what I’m going to do once I’m back in the classroom, and it translates into my broader ideas not only about my discipline but about what a university education should mean, ultimately.
See, this is the thing that pisses me off when people act like research is this thing that should be reserved for fancy types at fancy research universities, as if every other college professor should just shut up and teach and not worry about pesky things like having ideas. I am a better teacher because I remember what it’s like to learn stuff. Doing research is about continuing to learn stuff.This isn’t to say that top researchers are always better teachers or something that stupid. Obviously that’s not always true. But to say that we can just take intellectual inquiry and separate it off from teaching seems really [fracked] up to me.
Yes, exactly. Research and teaching are in conflict with each other only insofar as they both take time and thought, and there are only 24 hours in a day and only 7 days in a week. They are in conflict with each other in the way that (for example) walking the dog, working out, cooking dinner, and reading a novel are in conflict with our after-hours time. We probably can’t do each of these things every night–we all need to find a way to get them all done by the end of the week, though.
Finally–via AHA Today, I found this nice clip from Book TV featuring Nell Painter, P.J. O’Rourke, and John McWhorter talking about their writing processes. (Sorry–there’s no embed code, so you’ll have to click over there yourselves.) Which style are you? I’m a Nell Painter-type. I take a while to get going, but once I get going, I’m in flow. If only I could get going, I could be a contender, I could be somebody, instead of a bum. Which is what I am, let’s face it.