This is my first summer of not teaching since I started teaching at Harold Washington six(!) years ago. I must admit, it is awesome. The summer has been filled with making up for time lost with friends, family, the Lake Shore trail, and pleasure reading. But what has made this summer genuinely valuable has been the freedom to stimulate my mind according to the internal dictates of curiosity, rather than the external dictates of class preparation or tenure portfolio writing. Of course, what I find is that I most enjoy reading the very same things that I am also teaching. I got into this business for a reason, after all: I love philosophy. Nothing has ever given me quite the same pleasure as reading classical philosophy. I feel more strongly than ever, now with tenure at my back and a lifetime of teaching philosophy ahead, that I got into the right place. And fortune has been kind to bring me here.
But one thing I learned this summer is the great opportunity the summer lends itself to going to interesting conferences. This past weekend, I was in a new town and university for a conference directly related to the work on pedagogical games I’ve worked on here at HWC. Central Michigan University is located in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan: a small mid-western town with the cutest little downtown, with plentiful forests, a peaceful river, friendly citizens, and a sprawling and elegant university. As usual these conferences, it was mentally stimulating, motivated me for the fall, and filled my head with new ideas for the classroom. I strengthened my friendships with some faculty from across the country that I’ve known for some years, and made many new connections that I hope will develop. We spent every evening at dinner talking about students, games, teaching, and the various administrative environments we both benefit from and contend with.
All this got me thinking: where are the interesting conferences that other faculty go to? What have you learned? What conferences would you recommend to other faculty?
(I hope to share more about my two conferences in a future post.)