Breaks from reality:
John Oliver on the Filibuster – this has come up in the debates and is way more critical than I realized. Do we end the filibuster or gerrymandering or the electoral college only if it benefits our current party? Or do we end them because they violate the basic ethical norms of society? I’m going with the latter…
And to lower your blood pressure after that crap: Can dogs love cats too much?
Ted Talk: How the way English is taught silences students of color – The idea of NOT grading papers based on ideas grounded in colonialism is taught in an (optional) continuing education course available to UT professors and TAs. It profoundly changed how I teach writing flags. More of us need to take this, and take it in.
NPR: The Economists – an interview with an author on his book on the rise of economists as a social and political power in the US. We discussed briefly in 347. Highly recommended if you want to dig deeper into the conflation of unregulated capitalism with democracy.
Hasan Minhaj on Policing in America – Serious trigger warning here. It is, however, really informative if you’ve ever asked yourself, “How the hell does this keep happening?” when nobody ever gets prosecuted for killing unarmed people of color. Beyond the obvious aspects of systemic racism, there is some really effed up, but mostly hidden structural stuff that protects cops who violate the law to the exclusion of all else. Minhaj does a really good job of unpacking some of it.
On a lighter note:
Lizzo and Cookie Monster
I have office hours, usually in my office from 12:45-1:45 on Mondays, but contact me if you’re not in my class because I move around depending on the weather. I will be on campus daily until the end of the second week in July. I will be out of town from July 28-August 5. You can contact me for meetings via email or text.
Please note I will be doing a limited number of grad school recommendations in the Fall semester, so please contact me ASAP if you need one.
I have a batch of student graduating and with that comes the existential dread of what adulting will be like. I usually ask my Ethics class to come up with questions for me to answer the last week of school. I’m going to post some of my better responses here for posterity.
Question: What is up with not being motivated? Can I make myself more motivated? (paraphrased)
Answer: Motivation is a big issue, and there’s no easy fix. I’ve been highly motivated to do lots of stuff in my life, and some of it worked out and some of it didn’t. I’ve also had motivation issues with really important things that I eventually trudged my way through.
I believe we have an inner voice (or a bunch of them) that guides us, but sometimes that voice gets drowned out by other stuff like an obligation, financial reality, the need to be accepted or admired, etc. Also, what makes life meaningful changes as we age.
If one topic keeps you really in the zone (interested, time passes quickly, challenges are exciting instead of daunting) and another makes you exhausted and miserable, you might explore the former. That said, I’ve endured some stuff I mostly hated (dissertation review, for example) to get where I wanted to be, but my overall goal got me through. I’ve also had the same activity be amazing in one context (school) and totally and utterly awful in another (running a business).
We are creatures of impulse, and sometimes too many impulses pull on us at once. Sometimes it helps to write down or visualize what we want and what the barriers are (and what we are spending time on instead). Try to do this with curiosity, rather than self-judgment or guilt. I’ve used mind maps, spreadsheets, and journaling to concretize my ideas – whatever worked at the time. I’ve also worked with coaches a few times and therapists a lot.
Finally, I think the best decisions are when your heart, brain, and body are all on the same page (and this includes friends, partners, jobs, pretty much anything that has a big impact on your life)
Body – Do you feel energized and have stamina when you’re engaged with the activity (person, etc)? Do you feel balanced? Or do you feel wiped out? Do you end up relieving stress in ways that wear you out more? (staying up too late, drinking alcohol, or my personal favorite, too much coffee)
Mind – Does it make rational sense to pursue this avenue? What are the long and short term pros and cons?
Heart – Do you feel fulfilled, safe, joyful, peaceful, excited? Or fearful, angry, competitive, or insecure?
No career/person/etc is 100% perfect. I’ve had 4ish careers, and all of them had great things about them and suck things about them. It’s really about the balance. As a teacher, I have to fight really hard to carve out time for my family and physical/mental health (because of that 24-hour semester thing), and academic politics are just stupid. But in return, I get a lot of control, and the opportunity to be creative and to continually learn and improve. For me, teaching is a career that’s max on fulfilling and min on the suck parts.
That’s especially important for me because the combination of being a recovering perfectionist and a highly competitive person can really mess me up. Teaching, ultimately, is not about me so I can let go of the need to compare myself to others. Someone will always think I’m amazing (even my first semester 8 years ago when I sucked) and someone will always think I’m totally lame (no matter how much other students like my classes). I find this strangely freeing. In some ways, it can be helpful to work against type. Make of that what you will. And watch Hannah Gadsby’s Ted Talk – she talks about this too.
I’m teaching a six week summer version of HDF 340: Ethical, Philosophical, and Professional Issues during the first session. It focuses on personal and professional development and preparation with a large dose of applied leadership and ethics. It’s also fun. Registration starts soonish. If you have enjoyed my classes, please consider taking it or recommending it to students who need it to fulfill a requirement or need an ethics flag. Many thanks!