Resisting the Urge to Profess

Some of my former-students-turned-academics like to explain things to me. Whether we’re talking about the dangers of political apathy or the health benefits of exercise, I am treated to mini-lectures that provide me with background information, context, and a broad overview that can take upwards of 30 minutes.

Some of these explainers have had a few years of college-level teaching as TAs while others have managed to snag their first jobs as lecturers and adjuncts. They have developed habits of mind that run toward educating. I’m sure they do a good job for their students and I try not to mind when they practice on me, even when they forget that I’ve been around a few blocks myself. In the right mood, I can even find the behavior endearing.

What worries me is how this tendency can become a tic for some academics — and an annoying one at that.

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March 14, 2016 in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Scholars Talk Writing: James M. McPherson

About a zillion years ago, I was an editorial assistant at Oxford University Press, apprenticed to Sheldon Meyer, one of the great editors of American history. Sheldon had exquisite taste…

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March 7, 2016 in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Scholars Talk Writing: Laura Kipnis

Readers of The Chronicle will be plenty familiar with “Troublemaker” Laura Kipnis, a professor of film at Northwestern University. In February of 2015, she wrote an essay about “sexual paranoia” on campuses. A group of Northwestern…

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