Copyright © 1997, Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

From: Louis_Schmier
Date: Fri, 4 Jul 1997 07:33:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Random Thought: Nothing is Instant

Happy July 4th!! I have to admit, however, that my firecracker is pooped! It's 5:15. I just did my six mile jaunt on the darkened Valdosta streets. It was not, however, an easy walk this morning. I found out why. The temperature is 81 degrees! Humidity is 96%!! The heat index is 94 degrees!!! And the sun hasn't even broken the horizon. I'd call it a sauna out there, but I think a sauna is really cooler than these ovens of the south Georgia summer. Heck, even the few mosquitoes that were crazy as I to move around had sweat towels around their necks and were accompanied by an oxygen-carrying rescue squad!

As I slooshed along the soft, melting asphalt, struggling not to be like Brer Rabbit, I was thinking about an e-mail message I had received yesterday. "Louis," this mid-western professor wrote, "I thought I would give some of your techniques one try to see if they would work. They didn't. I'm going back to what I know works best."

I sometimes think we professors go into class as if we were praying. When we want something to change or to change something, when we want to try something new we read about in an article or heard about at a conference, we scream out impatiently demanding, "Lord, I need this NOW!" Or, "Lord, give me this NOW!" Or, "Lord, do this NOW!" Or, "Lord I want it this way Now!" We so want things to be easy and instant: just open a package, pour out the contents into a pan, add a cup water, nuke for a few minutes, stir once or twice, and SHAZAM, without any mess or fuss, without slaving away for hours and days, we have a chef's delight or mom's home cooking. We want successful attempts now, first time around, guaranteed, 100% effective, with as little effort as possible. After all, most us don't include teaching in our academic definition of work. We'll sweat buckets over running and rerunning an experiment; we'll go into the ring and box for rounds with interpreting a document; we'll go the full match wrestling with a sentence in an article, conference paper, or grant proposal. But teaching? So few of us grunt and groan about it.

So, if we don't get instant results, like this professor, we walk away with a smug, false self-satisfaction, loudly proclaiming righteously, "Okay, I've tried it. I've given it a change." But, have we? Really? Did we give it enough time, effort, thought, adjustment to really see if it works. Did we follow that adage: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again? Things don't change just because someone's going through a lot of motions and/or making a lot of noise. When all is said and done, it is more of the persevering "done" than the superficial "said" that makes things work.

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
Department of History                      /~\    /\ /\
Valdosta State University          /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
Valdosta, Georgia 31698           /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
                            /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\
                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
                             _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -\____

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