TITLE: Teaching and Administration as Running
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: October 07, 2005 4:34 PM
DESC: Software development is like running. Are teaching and administration?
Over the life of this blog, I have used running as
a metaphor for software development, for example,
entry about pace and expectations.
But I recently came across running as a metaphor
for another part of my professional life:
teaching versus administration.
This writer compares teaching to sprinting, and
administration to marathoning. On first glance,
the analogy is attractive.
A teacher spends hours upon hours preparing for a
scant few hours in front of the class, and those
hours are high intensity and quite draining. I've
rarely in other situations been as tired as I am at
the end of a day in which I teach three 75-minute
An administrator has to save up energy for use
throughout a week. A meeting here, a phone call
from a parent there, encounters with deans and
faculty and university staff and students...
Administrators have to pace themselves for a longer
haul, as they have to be up and ready to go more
frequently over most or all of their time on duty.
The real test of an analogy's value is in the
questions it helps us ask about what we do.
So I'll have to think more about this "sprinting
versus marathoning" analogy to before I know whether
it is a really good one.
I do know one thing, though. If my administrative
duties ever make me feel like
I will return to my full-time faculty gig faster
than my dean can say, "Are you sure?"