The Fiddle of Gold

As many of you know, this was my last academic year at Bellarmine. Because of last year’s dissertation failure, I could not continue as a professor. I’m in a bind; I need a completed terminal degree or another line of work.

After pondering for a while, I decided to remain an academic. I maintain few illusions about my power. If I wanted to transform individual lives, I should teach high school. The greater amount of contact means greater influence, but I don’t think I could deal with the immaturity and in-discipline. College 18-22 year olds aren’t that much more mature, but the paid nature of college means less frustration.

Another advantage is that University professors are also expected to research. I’m intrigued by the mix of statistics and education. I love statistics, in the Spanish sense of cariño. And that’s very useful, because the intensity needed to commit to a project, a dataset, a program, is quite high. Additionally, I want people to respect my field. I don’t expect people to care for numbers and data like I do, but I want them to utilize the tools. It’s my way to systematically make a better world, which is better done at university.

To continue to do so, I had to find a program that would let me pursue a doctorate. The best established program in statistics education – the ONLY full program – is in Minnesota. That climate leads to likely failure. Instead, I looked at other options. I received one excellent offer, from the Mathematics Education department of the University of Georgia. Thus, like the devil, I’ll be headed down to Georgia, but I won’t be looking for a soul to steal.

This will make for a lot of changes beyond location. Money is important. I was graciously made a Presidential Graduate Fellow, the University’s top tier, but I am still taking a 55% pay cut. That’s not a problem for survival; I have inexpensive tastes, and I bought long lasting items over the last few years. Sure, I would like a Hyatt Grand Bed, but I even own an iPad. (And, if you want to get me a big present, that’s an idea.) I’d always planned to cut back on travel. Nevertheless, I need to finish quickly, because if I am fortunate enough to beat the odds, get married, and think about children, a graduate fellow salary is insufficient.

I’ll also be making a cultural change. Since I’m pretty nerdy, getting to a more academic place will be positive. Even though the map shows that my “campus” is centered around the football field, indicating the relative importance of things, the people will share more of my interests. Louisville is a stable town designed for married people with kids, which I am not. Athens is more single and transient. Plus, I’ll have some access to Atlanta, which apparently has more single women than men. (But the stated Louisville ratio is even better, 81 to 100 instead of 88 for Atlanta and Athens, and that didn’t work.)

What does that mean for this site? Well, it means more opinion content. I believe that professors should not infuse their classes with opinion. In class, my fictitious propaganda organization is called “MSNBFox News”, and I include bad poll questions from both Republicans and Democrats. They’re not hard to find, by the way. Academia has a liberal partisan bias which I don’t find acceptable. While I’m part of the liberal tribe on issues around the economy, often very liberal, I am not on issues of sexuality. This makes matters quite complicated.
Additionally, I want to write about my experiences with the industry of education. The fundamentals are broken, and I worry that America doesn’t have the desire or capacity to fix them. While I won’t use private information from my time at Bellarmine, there will be criticism, particularly on the meaning of an undergraduate degree, and the issue of instruction versus athletics and other activities.
Thus, a second chance is beginning, both for twelvefruits and for me. I only hope that this time, I can be as successful as Johnny and get the fiddle of gold.

About Adam

My quest is a world where calling someone "virtuous like a fairy tale hero" is routine, not fantastic or ironic. My vocation is the teaching and learning of statistics. My dream is a long happy life with a wonderful wife and kids. Who knows if any will become true? More information is at my homepage on the twelvefruits network: http://adam.twelvefruits.com
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