An overview of this website and what to expect.
Who Am I?
To devote a website such as is described on the Home page must surely mean that there is a huge ego at stake. Au contraire, mon ami. As I am sure you know, there are far too many websites out there with agendas or information which is either false, misleading or purely propaganda. 'POLIS' describes my own POV, followed by my curriculum vitae. My first love was, and will remain, teaching. I firmly believe that good teaching is a performing art. I recently read an article which stated that many ‘faculty members have never taken a course on how to teach.’[i] Of necessity – it is, after all – a newspaper article, the authors must utilize sweeping simplisms upon which they predicate their conclusions. This, sadly, weakens their solutions. I have known many a professor who truly did not care for the classroom. An infinite number of courses (offered by the School of Education on their campus) would not help them at all. Personally, I have taken enough Education courses to have qualified for a ‘Master of Arts in Teaching’ (MAT). My quibble with the Education professors who taught the courses is that they communicated the theory, but they used the same teaching techniques which Professors Ehrlich and Fu decry.
The minimum requirement for full-time, tenure-track employment at most colleges and universities is a Ph.D. In and of itself, the degree (depending upon the discipline) means satisfying the whims and/or needs of a single mentor. Others may sign off on it, but it is merely a document which must please the Thesis/Dissertation director. My thesis director was one of those nightmares. I know that he never read what I had written; but, at a certain point, one must figure out a way to by-pass the obstruction. I was lucky/smart. I talked to the second reader who did read it and convinced the first reader to sign off on it. My dissertation was a dream, and I worked with a real professional. What does this have to do with teaching? The second reader was a true teacher while the first was not. Education courses would never have affected the first reader. But the arrogant son-of-a-bitch could write and publish. As long as promotion and tenure requires excellent service, excellent teaching reviews and excellent publishing, the vicious cycle described by Professors Ehrlich and Fu will continue. It is impossible to be excellent in all three areas, especially when publishing is the actual key to success. Simply put, Professors Ehrlich and Fu compared apples and oranges. Teachers at the primary and secondary levels have a totally different set of parameters which they must follow as apposed to the guidelines of college and universities.
What has the foregoing to do with ‘Landing Page #2’? It sets up two things: why I was an excellent teacher and why I was able to meet the excellence qualifications for my job. The first ‘Drop-Down’ consists of three short essays I wrote for Polis, which is the newsletter of the Department of History, Political Science & Philosophy at USC Aiken. It has been published annually since 1996. Polis provides a way to keep up with faculty and with current and former students. Three of my articles for Polis express many of the beliefs, concepts, ideas, ideals & lessons I have discovered, synthesized & formulated through my love of history. They are short but pithy. And they articulate who I was, am and will be as a teacher and scholar. If nothing else, GRM.com will view the topics posted through my eclectic eyes and ears. Perhaps there is indeed an advantage to having Attention Deficit Disorder [ADD]. I always said that if I could not make history come alive, then my efforts were (as Professors Ehrlich and Fu stated) a waste of their and my time. The second ‘Drop-Down’ is my curriculum vitae which should show that I was one busy prof!