Thursday, December 1, 2011

The great pendulum

Professors don't think in terms of calendar years but of academic years. The school year is partitioned into four great periods, corresponding to the two semesters and the long breaks between semesters.

During the breaks, we are primarily focused on our research.

During the semester, many of us are primarily focused on our teaching. To prevent excesses in that regard, if may be good to plan a trip to a conference some time during the semester: that is one purpose served by conferences, that neither Arxiv nor journals can be a substitute for.

So, every three months or so, the great pendulum of our work-life swings from teaching to research and from research back to teaching.


  1. Not sure what a "semester" is - sounds like Latin to me. There are days when I'm working towards a conference deadline, and days when I'm not. Everything else: frills and furbelows.

  2. Anonymous: it's a matter of priorities. When you have a lecture to prepare and a conference deadline coming up, which has priority?

  3. Claire: The conference deadline, always. But I do admire people who give priority to teaching, just as you admire people whose research has practical relevance!

  4. Some of us have 3 quarters, not 2 semesters. Also, not everyone has luxury of the January break common in the US northeast. 10 days off between terms is hardly a "long break".

  5. Anonymous 6:12pm: I think that the people who teach 3 quarters get a little bit short-changed.