Back to School

I have taken a few days off from blogging.  The reason for my absence is that I had to take time to prepare for the new academic year.  My preparation involves reading several new books, updating lectures, and throwing away old papers and other stuff that have accumulated since the beginning of last academic year.

Many years ago, when I began teaching, my university decided to give a computer to every member of the faculty.  At the same time, they reduced the secretarial work in the office because, as the Dean said, computers would simplify the work of the faculty.  The goal was to help the office go paperless.

The reality, is far from what the Dean envisioned, computers have made life both easier and harder.  It is easier to write for publication with a computer.  One can easily edit a paper or the chapter of a book. Cutting and pasting is much easier with a computer than typing the same paper with an IBM Selectric (most of the young people born in the last 20 years or so will have no idea what an IBM Selectric is).

However, computers have made life more difficult because of the unintended consequences of going digital.  One problem is that with computers, members of the faculty have to do the work that was done by secretaries who worked for the faculty.  While most secretaries were much better typists and could do the work much faster, members of the faculty are poor typists and work much slower, thus consuming valuable time that could be spent on research or writing more blogs.

In addition, with the advent of computers, we also had the birth of emails, that modern plague that invades one’s life day and night.  With the growth of technology, now one can check emails at the office or at home.  In addition, email follows you on your iPad and on your smart phone.  Emails are everywhere.

Last month my wife and I went on a vacation.  When I returned to the office, I had to process hundreds of emails.  I have an email at school, one at home, and another for the blog.  Just to process all the emails that had accumulated over a two-week period, it took me almost two days.  Maybe, some of us are luddites at heart, yearning for the good old days that never existed.

But I digress.  I love teaching and the interaction with my students.  But while students work hard during the quarter (Northern Seminary is still on the quarter system, while most schools are on the semester system), professors work hard before the quarter in preparation for the beginning of the school year.  They also work hard during the academic year, reading books and articles, preparing lectures, and teaching classes. They work harder still after the quarter is over, reading papers and grading exams.

Once the academic year is over, it is time to clean the office by throwing away all the paper accumulated during the academic year.  Then, after a few days off to rest, a brief time of vacation away from the office, the process of reading and preparing for the new academic year begins all over again.

So, since I still have to read three or four more books in the next four weeks, I will take a few more days off from blogging.

I will return on Monday.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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4 Responses to Back to School

  1. Minnie Doss says:

    Dr. Mariottini,
    Being a Special Educator, I resonate with everything you have said. I look forward to your next blog. Have a wonderful semester.



    • Minnie,

      It was nice hearing from you. As an educator you understand that there is a lot of preparation behind what happens in the classroom. Most students (and some administrators) do not realize that behind good teaching there is a lot of preparation.

      Claude Mariottini


  2. Andrew Sturt says:

    Emails are, indeed, a big time consumer. I work for am international Christan ministry with just over 800 staff at its primary headquearters. At that location, there where 4.6 million emails sent and received in the last fiscal year and 96 million junk emails filtered out by IT.


    • Andrew,

      That is amazing! 96 million junk emails is an amazing number. If we had to spend time deleting these emails manually, we would have a lot of problems. Even though emails can be a problem, I still like receiving them. It keeps me in touch with friends and readers of my blog.

      Claude Mariottini


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