Field of Science

August, the academic new year

Those of us whose lives revolve around academia, especially those of us who actually do the work of educating, which almost universally means faculty on nine month appointments, march to the beat of a different drummer, the academic calendar. My point here is not to criticize the calendar, or the 2nd associate assistant vice president whose pitiful job, even though certainly making more money than yours truly, it is to construct this dictatorial beast. So, no cheap shots will be taken. Besides if you start criticizing the calendar twerp, then the monkey who does the campus directory, the one that requires that you know the university's complete organizational chart to find anything, would take a drubbing so severe that it would actually generate sympathy for them, and that would detract from my postitive energy.

Although August is a funny time for a new year, it deserves some celebration, just like New Year's Eve revelries on the Georgian calendar, and most certainly we celebrators of the academic new years often have a drink or three on this hallowed eve. Actually the Phactor likes these beginnings because everyone starts out in anticipation of so many good things happening, and it takes several weeks, about the time of the first exam for the rosy glow to fade a bit, when both parties begin to face the realities that success takes some effort and that not everyone expended as much as required. But that is part of the job.

Ah, but that's then and this is now, and the energy and excitement are something to be enjoyed, although the week immediately before classes is something to be avoided altogether, if possible, because our small city becomes a mad house, as would any municipality whose population increases by 50%, and only in the 18-22 year old category, virtually overnight.

So come next Monday my students will be told that they start my courses fully able to grasp an A, and that my expectations are that they all will. And that is the wonderfulness of new years, a time to set aside the certain knowledge of what will happen, and to hold out hope that this semester will be THE semester when all my students achieve what they are fully capable of achieving if other things did not get in their way. The sad reality is that even reality shows can be a higher priority for some than the best botany course ever. Still some of them will achieve this, even to their own surprise, so the Phactor can still be optimistic and still look forward to new beginnings with new people after so many years in the business. Happy 41st new fall semester from the Phactor. Let's hope it's a good one.

No comments: