Sunday, June 26, 2005

One of those learning moments.

As I read through this book (more slowly than I would like due to a million other things on my plate) a lot of it doesn't fit well for me and my experience. It may be my field -- smaller than most, fairly specialized, not all that focused on the R1 job (other schools are fine, so is corporate/non-profit work), the "good" schools to be at are not necessarily the ones you might hail as the good schools in general, etc.

But one sentence stood out and reminded me of an important moment in my professional development. On page 13, Hall says:

What can it hurt (except our ego, of course) for us to reveal to students and young colleagues that we seasoned and experienced academics fail at times in processes by which we are judged.
I instantly remembered a conversation with my major professor and mentor at a conference about 2 years after I graduated. He's a big name in my field, and is well-established through a series of books he edited. Lately he's been reinventing himself, pursuing a new line of research about which he is rather passionate. The problem is that he's not recognized in that part of the field and that the part in which he is well-known is looking to him to continue producing some of the same old. He told me that he was having a very difficult time getting his manuscripts accepted and had just had two rejected -- one with a plea to start writing about his old topic again. When he told me that I realized that his success and reputation didn't mean he would never fail any more. He's still working hard, accepting failure and trying to find his way down a new path. It was a very important moment for me, to see how human he is and how he must struggle with his work just like I do.