ERIC Number: EJ788924
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar-14
Reference Count: 0
Get Another Life
Perlmutter, David D.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n27 pC2 Mar 2008
While the demands of promotion and tenure should not be minimized, career obsessiveness is both a psychological and a practical mistake. Citing management scholar David Heenan, who argues the intellectual case for having multiple lives: career, personal, communal, spiritual, artistic, the writer advocates that a major demographic and psychographic revolution in academe over the past 30 years has incited a lifestyle crisis, making Heenan's philosophy particularly relevant. The university is the site of a storm of 21st-century expectations and medieval bureaucracy, and the promotion-and-tenure process is the clashing point. More is expected of junior faculty members today to secure tenure, yet that faculty expects more in the way of institutional support for research and family needs. Professors experience real anxiety over balancing the demands of teaching a new course, finishing a book that is under contract, and attending the late-afternoon meeting of some campus committee versus, say, picking up the kids after school at 2:15 on Wednesdays, repainting the house, or spending a few weeks with the family at the beach each summer. The stress of conflicts in time, focus, and needs, undermines both careers and personal lives and trying to satisfy every demand for attention will leave them all unfulfilled. Reasonable alternatives do exist, writes Perlmutter, if one is candid about what is required to achieve career goals, and negotiates an equitable division of labor with one's partner, recognizing and accepting that one will not be there for everything for everyone. Paradoxically, a constructive step is to take Heenan's advice and discover a "second life" , i.e., a new creative outlet. Although seemingly counterintuitive, the cognitive cleansing provided by a nonwork activity more than makes up for the time expended and, perhaps more important, the other life heightens creativity in the workplace.
Descriptors: Anxiety, Life Style, Faculty Promotion, Tenure, College Faculty, Family Work Relationship, Teacher Responsibility, Leisure Time
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A