Friday, December 21, 2007

"I've Done It To Myself."

I don't blame anyone else for it.

I've done it to myself, turned myself into a fearful and timid professor, tying up my whole self-worth in what others think of me: students, colleagues, and administrators.

All I wanted to be since the time I was a middle schooler was a teacher. I loved college and grad school was a blast. Then I was in the profession, and every bit of my courage and soul got stripped away.

I kissed ass and catered to my department to move along the tenure & promotion track. I dumbed down my classes to get student approval. I wrote incomprehensible gibberish in "hot fields" in order to publish things I wouldn't read myself if you put a gun to my head.

And I found myself stooped and depressed more and more.

I would come home from a day on campus and it would take longer and longer to be able to face my family, my wife, my sons, my friends. By Saturday night I would be closest to my old self, facing the barbecue, tossing a football, catching a new movie with my sweetie. By Sunday afternoon the gloom began to fall. More boot licking. More stooping.

And it was all on me. I could have said no to things. I could have said, forget the student evaluations; I'm going to do what I think is right. I could have told my chair to rope someone else into doing the work that nobody else would do. And if by standing up I would have lost my job, lost my good name, lost my credibility, what would I have been losing?

I'm a nebbish, a toady. And it happened because I let it all happen. If you can't be human, be strong, be engaged and confident, what good is the $56,000 I make. I should have gotten down on my knees and begged them to fire me, just so that I wouldn't have wasted all of these years.