After leaving the University, I was initially relieved. I could take a break from the grueling routine of teaching classes, attending painful and pointless faculty and committee meetings, filling out bureaucratic forms, applying for jobs, squeezing in writing and researching all while trying to also be a parent, a partner and a (decent) person.
And I would finally have time to do the work that I had been trained, as a graduate student and then a university professor, to do. I could apply all the tools for critical and resistant thinking that I had been teaching for years to my own life and parenting practices. I could write about the research that mattered to me, not the research that was “cutting edge” and deemed worthy of support. And I could experiment with more ways to make and stay in trouble, especially online.
And I did. And it was fun and restorative. And even though it was a break from teaching, it was still a lot of work, just a different kind of work than the extremely critical, high pressured and overly disciplined labor that I had been doing as an academic. It was creative and experimental and it enabled me to prioritize the care of my self and my family over caring for an Institution. It also enabled me to reclaim a joy and exuberance for learning and engaging.
Lists! Some Approaches to Taking and Making a Break
- Learning new things and old things in new ways
- Confronting and attempting to respond to haunting questions from my academic life
- Unlearning bad academic habits and values
- Being undisciplined and living beside/s
Restoring my health and my joy for education. Experimenting with new ways to engage and express myself. Learning new things and applying what I already knew in new ways. Practicing my own pedagogy by confronting and feeling the force of the questions that haunt me and by unlearning harmful habits. Being Undisciplined and living beside and besides the academy. These approaches, which have made me joyful, exuberant and caring again, have also improved my ability to flourish as a person and an educator.