Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Once More into the Breach

Tomorrow begins our back-to-school conference.


I have yet to meet a single academic who finds these meetings useful, interesting, or helpful.

And yet.

Some of these sessions, I understand, are necessary -- we have to be trained, yearly, for instance, on ADA requirements, and when else to do that? -- but some of it, you know, not so much.

To give my school credit, they have cut the back-to-school conference down from the four or five days of endless blatherskate we used to have to sit through (with people being brought in and being paid tons, I am sure, to talk at us for hours at a time about perfectly useless bosh) to what is now an almost painless two days worth of meetings.

The thing is, we're in there, all of us, academics all, from 8 to 5:00, with only a few breaks, and every time I look around, what do I see?

Almost no one is paying any attention to the speakers.

Everyone is on their phones and iPads and devices, or else working away on syllabuses and in planners.  I, for instance, plan to take Thomas More's Utopia with me, and Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier.  These are the first two books I'm reading for my Popular Lit class (Utopian/Dystopian Lit) and my Working Class Lit class.  I'll be working out assignments and then getting started on the reading for each.

If I have time after that, I'll work up my first Fiction Writing assignment.

Everyone else will be doing much the same.

So, you know, it will be a useful few days. Though not exactly in the way the conference planners expect.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I hate these things. We have two mandatory days, and it is boring to the worst degree. I also have other terrible meetings starting next week. I'm already sick of the fall and it hasn't started yet.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Oh, and hat tip to your Henry V quote in the post title.

Bardiac said...

Wow, I've never had ADA training. I think having something to read that laid out the important stuff I should know would be great and helpful, but why would we need that every year?

Do you also get FERPA training more than "don't do anything that makes student grades or records available to anyone other than the student or official university folks working in their university capacity"?

delagar said...

We get ADA training every year, and sexual harassment training every year.

As I recall, the first few years we had FERPA, we had yearly training on that too. And one year after someone fucked up seriously, they made the deans all give us training on it again. But now for FERPA training we just get a handout (THANK GOD), which we're required to include in our syllabi.

The requirements for yearly ADA and sexual harassment are (I think?) mandated by our state legislature. I might be wrong about the source of the mandate.

Since no one really listens to any of it, you know, not all that useful. But the school can say they've done it, I guess.

delagar said...

I'm not exactly opposed to any of this, mind you.

But we are academics. We CAN read. All of this could be sent to us in a nice bullet-point email.


nicoleandmaggie said...

All of our training is online and there's a quiz at the end. And you have to get 100% or they make you take it AGAIN (sometimes just the quiz, sometimes the online training).

delagar said...

No tests for us. We just have to be there. Or accept the handouts.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

We have a harassment (sexual and otherwise) training course online that we have to take every two years. There is a quiz at the end and you have to get 100% to pass. When I took it at this time last year I thought, "yep that's happened her. And that. And that. AND that." I sincerely think that these are worthless tools, since everyone is so casual about violating them. Frustrating. But no one wants to complain because everyone is afraid of losing their jobs. Even tenure doesn't protect you much at my school. Ugh

delagar said...

See, there's also that. Being trained on it doesn't keep it from happening, or mean that people report it, either.

I suppose it *might* mean that people at the administrative level would at least take it seriously. I haven't had to report any since we got the Title IX training, so IDK.