Friday, March 30, 2007

Professional Service Can Be Fun

Compared to all the time I spend reviewing ghastly manuscripts and proposals, participating in stupid committees, and all the rest.. my experience with a recent teaching workshop was an amazingly anomalous positive experience with Professional Service. It was disconcerting at first to be working with a group of friendly people who listened to each other and laughed a lot. It was a multi-generational, gender-balanced, geographically disparate group. There was also a nice mix of college and university professors, and this provided a range of experiences to call on for the teaching materials we created.

I was the only one from a big R1 university, but I felt right at home at this workshop. At a previous teaching workshop I attended, I felt isolated because the workshop was 98% professors from small colleges, and many of the topics discussed were irrelevant to the realities of teaching at a large university. This recent workshop, however, was an invitation-only event in which the organizer specifically selected a small group of people with particular expertise. We tackled the problem of how to teach some of the more difficult theoretical and applied aspects of our field. This was something my fellow workshop participants and I had all given a lot of thought to, but each had done so largely independently, and it was fascinating to get together to share ideas and create materials that can be used by others.

I arrived at the workshop very tired from all the traveling I've been doing this month, so it was also great that the trip was very worthwhile. I feel like I've been away from my family too much lately, but fortunately I don't have to go away again for nearly 2 weeks.

7 comments:

hermanweyl said...

You haven't been away from your log at all though, so does it mean that it is more important than your family or you are one of those people who have the so called "internet addiction"? Among the science bloggers I follow, you are the only one who writes every single day. (You write rubbish all the time though, I am yet to read any science from you) therefore I am wondering what kind of screwed up person you are...

pyniac said...

Good to see you've found a supportive environment. Personally, I am wary of getting into teaching and outreach activities before tenure--in a dept with a small fraction of women, I sense these gender-balanced activities will not be looked on favorably at review time (well, this goes for most service activities.) Though without teaching and outreach, we would be hurting for good students and science-literate taxpayers--a point that is completely lost on some otherwise intelligent folks. At least the NSF seems to see the whole picture.
By the way, I see your regular and concise posts as a sign that you are productive, dependable, and at the top of your game (ooops--sports analogy), with resources to spare.

Female Science Professor said...

It's always interesting to get comments from people who hate what I write but read my blog often. And who is to say that I have to write about science in this blog? That is not my chosen topic, as you seem to be starting to figure out.

You may also be interested to know that there are internet connections in airports and hotels, and it is possible to connect to the internet whilst traveling. Therefore, the only conclusion that you can make about what is important to me is that it is more important to me to write in this blog than to sit at an airport gate watching Fox or CNN. I may well be 'screwed up', but I think you have arrived at this conclusion through faulty reasoning.

Female Science Professor said...

pyniac - That's a good point. I definitely limited my science-ed activities until after tenure, but I did do some. Everyone benefits when assistant professors and instructors are involved in these activities, and I think they can be very useful for early-career college teachers. But you're right, you can't do 'too much' of it.

Ann Nelson said...

I have been at many tenure meetings. I have never seen anyone argue for tenure for someone on the basis of "he or she does wonderful professional service.'
On the other hand, being seen as a "bad citizen" can hurt your chances. You have to balance it just right--do great research, do a great job communicating how great it is, teach at least reasonably well, be responsible with professional service but dont let it consume you.

anon said...

I actually wrote a response to the first commenter when no one else had commented, which was a lot terser than FSP's reply, but that I decided not to post. I really thought that hermanweyl's was going to be deleted and I still think it should be. Despite it being easy to demolish his argument, it's not a good idea to leave a window of opportunity for trolls.

Especially trolls who comment on physics blogs and start off thoughtful and respectful, then personally insult those to whom they are replying in the last sentence by calling them ignorant or screwed up. Seriously, that is the basic content of every one of this guy's posts. He contributes nothing of value anywhere.

Mr. B. said...

Hmmm...

Sometimes it's best just to ignore mindless comments.

But "rubbish all the time" is clearly inappropriate.

Mr.Bonzo