Denial’s End

Okay, I’ll come out and say it: the academic year is on us. Charles’ excitement about things (“…I have the privilege of teaching some amazing classes”) seems to me an opportunity for all of us to finally let go of our denial and talk optimistically about the elephant in the room. (“Not everybody gets to have one, you know. Think of all the fertilizer for the garden!”)

This term, as a sabbatical replacement, I get to serve as director of one of our academic programs: with advisees, and everything! What interests me most about it so far is, that it draws me into closer contact not only with the students but also with the other faculty. The life of us “contingent faculty” types sits on a spectrum from isolation to collaboration, and tends to be weighted toward the former. The ability to spend more time on campus means, for me, the opportunity to become better acquainted with peers whom I already vaguely know to be some interesting people.


  • Introduction to the Old Testament: many changes this term, mostly toward online collaboration; also, I am offering my lectures only as podcasts to be viewed at home, not during sessions.
  • Elementary Hebrew I: continuing with an initial ten hours of purely oral/aural exercises (no aleph-bet). I have ideas for something that seems fun to me, but I’m not talking about it yet in case I don’t quite manage it.
  • Colloquium for Masters of Theological Studies: where new MTS students get oriented to the degree program and veterans write and present their thesis proposals. This is a new one for me.
  • Literature of Ancient Israel: this is actually at another school, Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Pastoral Studies. It is geared towards laypeople, and meets only once a week at night. Last year’s students were a delight.

The truth will set you free: shake off your denial and come clean. If you are teaching, then what are you teaching? If you are a student, what are you taking? In either case, what are you (or what could you be) excited about in this coming academic term?

9 Responses

  1. This semester I’m taking, or rather, retaking, UM Studies Wesley and 19th century. I am excited about the opportunity to finish something I started last fall, but had to withdraw from the course due to my illness/pregnancy/insane schedule. I’ll also be taking Christian Moral Theology. I don’t know a lot about the course, but I will be taking it from Dr. Brent Waters, a man from whom I have been told numerous times not to leave Garrett without taking a class. I’m also taking my last semester of Vocational Formation and Church Leadership, I’ve already seen the syllabus, and several new changes have me intrigued.

  2. PS.. your bit about the change to Hebrew has me intrigued.

  3. Reminder: Those of us on quarters started summer a month later and still have a month to go.

    • Chris, I’ll ask you in another venue if you don’t check back here, but: Do you like quarters, as a teacher? If so, what do you like? If not, what don’t you like?

      Strictly curiosity. I’ve only taught a bit on the quarter system, and it was languages, which you know to be an idiosyncratic kind of subject matter.

      • One colleague has said that the quarter system is good for students–it’s like a tasting menu for them–but not for faculty.

        At a couple of levels it’s a wash — we teach a 2-2-2 (or less with a Ph.D. advising load), and actual class time is comparable to semesters with a 2-2. And the summers are the same length, though time-shifted.

        The way that quarters stink is in prep — and since I have nothing but new preps for two solid years… Once I have my syllabi set up and can just tinker, and design a new course now and then, I think I’ll be much less concerned about that, though.

        I guess if there’s an advantage, it’s that I “get” to teach a lot of interesting things, as opposed to being on a 2-2 at a university, where one would have to devote one’s energy to fewer subjects. It certainly keeps you sharp. I mean, Ugaritic and Akkadian on top of two Hebrew exegesis courses and two doctoral seminars all in the first two years? Show me another job where I could have done that.

  4. You’re showing us all up with your pedagogical reading. That’ll look good to employers.

  5. I am most excited about testing my year of Hebrew tutelage under the one and only Dr. G. Brooke Lester at another school (North Park) for a Hebrew readings class. It is always a thrill to see how your school matches up with the place down the street.

  6. Teaching: Intro to Judaism. Taking: Didactic Wisdom Lit (from Fox, the “other” master–i.e. not Seow), Linguisics and Biblical Hebrew, and Biblical Archeology. Studying Syriac independently. Excited about: trying new pedagogical techniques, like assigning close readings (well, it’s new to us) and focusing on conceptual, rather than factual, learning.

    Also excited about giving my second academic lecture (and first-ever to undergrads). Thanks, by the way, for giving me the opportunity to give my first (even if it was on Chronicles).

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