Thoughts on genre, language, grammar, and other
rhetorical and linguistic norms
rhetorical and linguistic norms
My last post, on my starting retirement, must not have modelled clear communication since I’ve received several responses that make me think I miscommunicated—badly. So this post is to clarify. Please read so I can do a better job of telling you what I think, plan, and want, including what I want from you!
I started the last post with a list of things I won’t do anymore, including department meetings, paper grading, but also office hours and feedback on student drafts. To clarify—These are things I will not have the opportunity to do anymore because I won’t be working in a job as a professor/teacher anymore. These are NOT all things I don’t WANT to do anymore. Regular citizens don’t get asked to grade papers very often, and students aren’t lining up at their office hours, even if they do hold them.
I loved my work as a professor, and I loved most of the things I did. I loved teaching and interacting with students. I loved research and writing, even when it was really hard.
Some version of some of those things will continue now that I am retired. I am continuing to lead seminars and workshops on writing, and I will continue exploring other ways I can teach and interact with people who want to learn and discover with me, including being a student myself. I will continue to write, though I expect the nature of my research to change from more scholarly topics to more everyday life. I am keeping open to all possibilities of how I might continue with some of that work I loved, just in a different form and with less time pressure.
Which leads me to the second clarification: I am not at a loss for what to do, and I don’t see retirement as nothing but not doing things. I am definitely looking forward to having more space and time, and I am looking forward to having more freedom to decide what I most want to spend that time on. But I know that I will be busy, probably happily so. I will sign on to doing things because I want to do them, and those will create some obligations for me. But I am hoping to spend my time on new obligations I choose to take on. Many of the old obligations, again, were ones I enjoyed—meeting with students, designing classes and syllabuses, writing my blog, and more. Finding new versions of those old obligations will be a pleasure, not a duty.
I’m sure there is more that I need to clarify. The initial post was a rare one that I wrote quickly, within a couple of hours, and posted without asking my trusted reader to give me feedback first. That will teach me. Let that be a lesson to us all! Reread and revise more than once. Get others to read drafts and revise after considering what those trusted readers say. And listen to the feedback you receive after you publish, as I’ve done. Fortunately, a blog permits follow-up posts and clarifications. Phew. [adding comment August 7 to note that several readers have since written to tell me they found the first post perfectly clear!]
I hope this clarifies what you might have been thinking about after reading the original post. Please let me know if not. I am sad to say good-bye to many of the things I have done for 38 years as a professor. I plan to stay even more active and to say yes to many new challenges as a retiree. And I definitely want to keep interacting with you, dear reader, either through this blog or Twitter or emails or other opportunities we discover we share.
Our adventures continue…
I am retiring today.
Today is the day I stop working for my employer.
Do those statements say the same thing?
I hadn’t noticed any difference until I told someone I was retiring and they responded with “Oh July 31 is your last day of working for KU.”
There is a difference.
I could go on working for others, I may continue consulting, I could continue writing and publishing. I’m just not working for my current employer anymore.
That’s the big decision with retirement. Are you going to continue doing work-like things, or are you going to shift gears more drastically? Are you going to stop working for your employer, or are you going to stop working?
I know of one professor who “retired” a few years ago and has been busy writing textbooks and working with publishers and visiting colleges to give lectures and workshops. She is reportedly happy.
I know of another professor who “retired” around the same time to a horse ranch in Montana. Not a bit of academic work since. She is reportedly happy.
Friends sent me a greeting card that said,
“Know the secret to having a happy retirement?”
Inside: “Don’t go to work anymore.”
So I won’t go to work anymore. But am I going to work anymore?
What I won’t do anymore (genre-style):
Scholarly articles (except proofing two that are in the process of being published)
Conference talks (unless the postponed one from pandemic 2020 repeats in 2021, which I doubt right now, end of July 2020)
Curriculum design (except for consulting seminars and webinars)
Lesson plans (except for plans for consulting seminars and webinars)
Letters of recommendation (except for former students)
Meetings with graduate students (except former ones who want advice over coffee or a drink)
OK, wait, that list isn’t going as planned. Let me try again…
What I definitely won’t do anymore (genre-style):
Teaching observation reports
Teaching advisor meetings
Student progress reports
Department committee meetings
Committee election ballots
Daily course schedules
Feedback on student drafts
Blackboard course sites
Promotion and tenure votes
Faculty application files
Annual merit portfolio
What I definitely will do from now on (genre-style):
TBD To Be Determined
It’s not that I have no idea what I’ll do. It’s that I have so many choices in this new freedom.
The genres I’ll choose to do from now on are less well-known since I haven’t spent the last 35 (38 total) years writing them, reading them, creating them, joining them, participating in them.
What I probably won’t do (genre-style):
As you can see, retirement and pandemic have collided in my timing (and that of many others). That timing makes this retirement even more unknown than usual, I suspect.
As you can see, pandemic or not, I am retiring, not just no longer working for my employer.
I’m not going to work anymore, and I’m not going to work anymore
Even if I write, teach a seminar or workshop, or meet with a former student, I intend to do nothing that I would see as work. I plan to try new things, return to old favorites, let myself play and explore.
I can make that choice, putting me in a very privileged position.
I am also in a very privileged position because I had a job that I loved for 35 years, working with good colleagues and wonderful students, and doing good work. The list of what I will miss would be a long one.
So as of August 1, 2020, I am retired.
I’ll let you know in a year what retirement becomes for me, genre-style