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Ed Leadership Faculty Form Reading Group to Discuss The Slow Professor

Friday, November 04, 2016

Eleven faculty members in WCE’s Department of Educational Leadership are reading The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy by Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber. The group meets monthly to discuss ideas presented in the book, including ways to improve teaching, research and collegiality amidst the frantic pace that defines contemporary university life.

The reading group was initiated by assistant professor Kevin McClure.

“The idea came from discussions at a department retreat where we talked about our values and the type of culture we’d like to create,” McClure said. “One of the values we identified was taking time to connect with one another on a more personal level – to recognize that we’re professors but people, too.”

McClure came across The Slow Professor through his research. “The book discusses finding time to be more deliberative, reflective and thoughtful in academic work, mainly by resisting pressures to work more at a fast pace,” he said. “I pitched the idea of a reading group as a chance to build upon some of our conversations at the retreat.”

The faculty members meet monthly to discuss ideas presented in the book; meetings that Bill Sterrett and Andy Ryder said are both informative and enjoyable.

“I really appreciate the chance to chat informally with other colleagues in the department regarding how to protect and maximize our time, and helpful hints, such as being sure to “unplug” and find time to reflect,” Sterrett said.  “Coming together to share ideas and encouragement is helpful.”

Ryder echoed the sentiment. “We all struggle at times with the stress and pressures of the job. In many ways, the reading group has been a nice way to build community within our department,” he said.

McClure acknowledged that the reading group initiative won’t drastically alter the nature of academic work, but hopes the discussions will encourage faculty to find ways to make their work more meaningful.

“I think we as faculty sometimes forget our agency and voice in constructing the norms of our work,” he said. “I’d love to see similar conversations happen across the college.”