Skip to main content

It’s getting better all the time

Topics: Autobiographical

A few days ago, I mused about a variety of issues that were upsetting me. I ended the musing with a hope that things would get better.

The next day did not have an auspicious start. I fell out of bed and managed to knock over Michelle’s nightstand.

However, after that, things did get better.

What happened in terms of the particular issues that made me upset? Let me see.

An alum who I value reminded me that they were relatively immature when they were a Grinnell student but that they grew a lot while at Grinnell. I appreciate that they got me to step back and reflect on my feelings. I’m still not thrilled about the whole thing, but the alum is right; people make mistakes while in college. I certainly made my own mistakes. It’s arguable that signing in to CS Table and not attending is no worse than, say, exploring the steam tunnels [1] or using your printing allocation to print blank sheets of UofC watermarked paper [2].

There was also another student issue I mentioned in that musing, one which I have now removed from the musing. It turns out that it was an issue of miscommunication rather than irresponsible student behavior.

What about the issue of major declarations? I had a nice talk with Associate Dean Arner about the issue. It turns out that many faculty do not take them seriously [3], which suggests that it may not make sense to require them. There is also a real concern about students who find the whole declaration process intimidating and identifying ways to better support them [4]. I’m still moving ahead with my plans to try experiments in requiring students to more thoughtfully articulate their understanding of liberal education and to explain how their four-year plan achieves the goals of such an education. However, I’m no entertaining the idea that it need not be tied to the declaration of major.

If you’re a faculty or staff member at Grinnell and would like to participate in discussions (or on a plan-defense panel), let me know. [5]

My body seems okay to have no long-term damage from the fall. I was able to do water aerobics yesterday and today, which is a good sign.

Youngest was able to get the cards printed and we’ve sent them off to family members.

I think that’s it. I did manage to make a horrible mess in the kitchen yesterday, but that’s another story.

Should I have gotten as upset as I did about these various issues? Probably not. But we aren’t always in control of our emotions [6]. Did I need to muse about them? I’m not sure. Musing helped me work through the issues and to get some of the anger out. What should I do about the musing? I considered taking it down. However, it represents a snapshot of my thought at the time, and it resonated with a few people. I’ve updated the musing to make it clear that this followup musing exists, which I think suffices.

What should I do the next time these kinds of things happen? I’ll try to step back and calm down.

In any case, I appreciate that I have friends, colleagues, and alums who are there to help me think through these issues. Thanks all!


[1] I only went once.

[2] Message from the Computer Center: Can we just send you a ream?

[3] Grrr.

[4] I suppose Defend your four-year plan before a panel of faculty goes in the wrong direction.

[5] I’ll include students in the conversation, too. I’d just like to wait a bit before doing so.

[6] At least I’m not always in control of my emotions.


Version 1.0 of 2019-12-19.