Slowing down… feelin’ groovy? or delusional?

Sometimes tourist traps really get the job done.

So, how has your summer been so far? I have been pretty good about taking it easy and refreshing myself. While I have only very recently started back on working out and getting back in shape (only a month behind my resolved schedule), I just wrapped up a fun family vacation to Branson, Missouri — a few days of amusement park-ing, tacky-tastic touristing, and time in the pool with my kids and on the town with my best girl.

I haven’t been all lay-about idle (as my summer school prep and recent relaunching of this blog attest)… but I have been slowing down, and feelin’ groovy.

Alas, the incursions of the real world inevitably intrude as they will — time-sensitive e-mails about administrative matters from colleagues and students, and the realization that summer school will start all to soon, meaning summer school prep Must. Be. Finished. Soon.  I want to feel groovier more consistently, but sometimes going slower makes me feel anxious and guilty — not very groovy at all. Sound familiar?

[A potentially useful response for all of us after the jump!]

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Where does the time go? TAWKS might know…

A number of my colleagues, especially those involved in significant service commitments, have recently observed how the looming end of the academic year feels like such a time crunch: not only are we continuing our ongoing work in teaching, meetings and research (when we can fit it in), but the “needs doing by the end of year” deadline for bigger projects looms large, putting pressure on everyone. This is just one of the more salient moments that feature a plaintive refrain of all academic professionals — where does the time go?

Some new research on this issue at Boise State University was recently featured in Inside Higher Ed. Consider the findings of TAWKS: does this profile of faculty work-time feel familiar? How different might it be at a different sort of institution (say, a residential liberal arts college like mine)? What patterns are familiar?

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So Much to Do, So Little Time
April 9, 2014

Professors work long days, on weekends, on and off campus, and largely alone. Responsible for a growing number of administrative tasks, they also do research more on their own time than during the traditional work week. The biggest chunk of their time is spent teaching.

Those are the preliminary findings of an ongoing study at Boise State University — a public doctoral institution — of faculty workload allocation, which stamps out old notions of professors engaged primarily in their own research and esoteric discussions with fellow scholars.

“The ivory tower is a beacon — not a One World Trade Center, but an ancient reflection of a bygone era — a quasar,” John Ziker, chair of the anthropology department at Boise State University, says in a new scholarly blog post in which he discusses his faculty workload findings. “In today’s competitive higher-education environment, traditional universities and their faculty must necessarily do more and more, and show accomplishments by the numbers, whether it be the number of graduates, the number of peer-reviewed articles published or the grant dollars won.”

Ziker’s Blue Review post continues: “It is harder to count — and to account for — service and administrative duties. These are things we just do because of the institutional context of Homo academicus, and it’s hard to quantify the impact of these activities or the time spent, but they are exceedingly important for intellectual progress of the larger Homo clans.”

But of course just how professors spend their time has major implications for faculty, students and their institutions, he says – especially as Boise State has recently adopted a policy that professors should spend 60 percent of their time teaching. Hence the need for the Time Allocation Workload Knowledge Study, or “TAWKS.”

[more after the jump!]

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