Friday, May 8, 2020

Now starting a different blog-thread, Pandemic Life. This post double-listed, but will only post in Pandemic Life moving forward.

This article is a great one, I think.

A recent meeting i attended included some University of California faculty.  Fac/Staff in the UC system are told to expect a 25% pay cut, and a 25% furlough of staff.

“Pay cuts and furloughs.  We keep hearing about these, but the UNC System has been mum.  Not sure how we get to the level of cutting that looks like is around the corner without many more tools like pay cuts and furloughs.  I hate to say it…” (a candid comment from a UNC system-member Dean.)

It’s all terrifically frightening, and terrifically anxiety-producing.  It’s not the pay-cut, or the level of work that’s got me frightened, though, to be honest.

I’m feeling significant anxiety in knowing that I need to create two versions of every class for the year, ready to pivot online in a flash.  In addition to losing staff support and, likely, salary, we’ll need to design double the curricula; we may start on campus, but we all know there will be a second wave, worse that the first, and that we’ll go online before the first 8-week session is over.  And let’s face it, a class designed for online instruction is a completely different class than a face-to-face one.

The level of work doesn’t frighten me; what is now keeping me awake at night is that I have spent the last 35 years building a sense of teaching-as-performance, keeping sessions lively with humor, reading students faces/expressions to know who’s having trouble.  And now, well in advance (unlike the short-notice shift of this past semester) of the semester’s start, I realize that I have to re-conceptualize my idea of teaching; to create a completely new approach to engaging students in academic and skills classes (theory, e-music).  And if I fail at that, then I should just be sending students to some online free class that just involves reading and drills.  If I’m unable to completely reconceive my understanding and execution of teaching, there’s no reason for students to enroll in classes I teach, because the extra money they spend on ECU isn’t adding any value.  And the online teaching we do, with ever-decreasing support, will also serve as models for students who may enter a teaching profession that requires them to teach online.  

Not to mention that the fundamentals of our creative lives–the ideal of making music, what an ensemble is, how the solitary practice we all do in order to contribute to a larger effort—will already be a different “fact” for students come August.

I have never before flinched in the face of teaching, nor questioned our society’s need to offer guidance in the creative arts of music, dance, theater.  Now I know that I know nothing about how to do this.

But, of course, happy to have a job.

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