On Leisure

29 December 2005 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

One thing you need to be a scholar–whether wandering or not–is leisure time.  In fact, that was one of the things that surprised me about learning the Latin root for “schola”:  “leisure.”  But it makes immediate sense if you think about it:  a scholar needs leisure time to sit around, read books, have brain storms (or, in my experience, brain TORNADOES), and write.  This is why college professors don’t have to do much “work” according to lay people:  they only teach two or three classes a semester, they have summers off, they have all of that vacation time, etc.  The more accomplished among academics have “endowed chairs” which require them to teach only one course per semester, giving them more leisure time. . . . 

What the outside world (i.e the world outside Academia) doesn’t realize is that scholars and teachers are, ultimately, students (which, in Latin, suggests that they are eager for learning, they have zeal and engage in the pursuit of knowledge) and that being a student is HARD WORK.  But it’s fun work.  Yes–it’s possible to enjoy your work.  Look at me:  I don’t even have to DO the work of a scholar, yet I’m still at it–reading books and taking notes as if I have a paper to publish so I can achieve tenure or full professorship.

But the problem is that, when you’re wandering outside of the Ivory Tower, you have to do other work for a living.  I was about to say “actually have to work for a living,” but that would be engaging the very prejudice I’m trying to undermine. . . However, the point is that my work does not include the built-in leisure time requisite for being a scholar.  Luckily (?) I have a long, 3 1/2 hour commute every day into Boston which gives me time to get a lot of reading done. 

So the big question you, my audience, has is how do I spend my leisure time?  What do I choose to read?  What do I take notes on?  I can sense your eagerness, your desire to know. . . I’m only afraid that I won’t be able to sustain this blog at the rate at which you desire to consume it.  In fact, I’m writing this post at 7am on a vacation day, before I dash off to the dentist for a 7:30am appointment.  After that the family is dashing off to a kennel to see some “Swissies” (i.e. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs) before the 2pm show of the Blue Man Group after which we’ll be taking my older sons to get a bone density scan at Boston Children’s Hospital.  This is one of my busy vacation days.  One of those days all of the books and magazines continue to sit and wait patiently for me to get to them. . . .

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Entry filed under: academia, words.

Hello world! On Wandering pt. I

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