To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Mastery Year 1: Part 2: Post 3: Seven PhDs

Ok, just to be clear? When I said last week that I "don't know how to feel" about June having friends here other than me, I didn't mean that I object to her having friends. I'm not a total oaf. I'm not like that. I meant that when I was her only friend here I got lots of her attention and I liked that. I like her attention. I get less of it now. But I do want her to have her own life.

Anyway, today, Charlie and I finished up my first grad school semester. I mean that we've been going over everything I learned in grad school, and now we've gone over the whole first semester. That semester was 12 weeks long, and I had four classes and a lot of homework, and Charlie and I covered all of it in just seven weekly working lunches. As he said, he's a quick study and knew almost all of it already.

We'll start on my next semester next week, but in the meantime I've gotten tired of waiting for something to do. Time isn't hanging as heavy on my hands as it was, since I'm back working for my off-campus landscaping job again, but really, I came here to learn. I didn't come here to wander aimlessly around campus.

"Charlie, should I be asking you for an assignment?" I asked, when we were done talking about my old school work. We were in the Dining Hall, since it was raining and we couldn't eat outside. I'd finished eating and was standing up, more or less at attention (I don't do that on purpose with him, it just seems to happen), while he sat, finishing his meal.

"I don't know that 'should' has anything to do with it," he replied, judiciously.

"I mean, is this some sort of test and am I failing it? Should I be asking for work? Is that why you're not giving me anything to do? All the other new candidates have assignments now."

"Trick questions are for novices, by and large," he told me, addressing his cheese sandwich. "Ask for an assignment if you want to ask. Otherwise, I'll give you something when I'm ready."

"Well, then, I'm asking. I'm tired of doing nothing."

"Have you been doing nothing?" He looked up at me suddenly.

"No," I told him.

"What have you been doing?"

"Reacquainting myself with the campus and its people, tracking, watching insects and plants, and reading," I said, and sat back down across from him. "And trying to find times and places to be alone with June."

"Good. That's what you should have been doing, if you want to get into 'should.""

"But I want to do something additional now. I could watch insects on my own."

"Then I'll give you a new assignment--though I was going to, anyway, today."


He gave a tight little smile, quickly.

"There's nothing wrong with asking. Stop shoulding all over yourself, Daniel." That made me smile. I'd heard the saying before. "I want you to teach the material from your first grad school semester to the rest of campus--as much as you think they'll be interested in. Talk to Sharon about setting up a series of workshops."

"You're going to have me tech all of it, aren't you? Everything I learned in grad school to the entire campus? But that will take two and a half years."

"So? You in a hurry? Anyway, it won't take that long."

"Why not? How not? It's not like they already know the material."

"They aren't a unitary entity," he reminded me. "You're not trying to take the entire student body up to the level of a master of science degree. You'll be offering stand-alone workshops to whichever few students happen to be interested in each one. That means that you don't have to make them successive. Cover all twelve meetings of a single class in a week, if you want to, because you don't need to leave time for your students to assimilate everything. Also, you'll be leaving out a lot of specialized material, a lot of things you judge these students aren't ready for or interested in, and you don't have to take them through your internships and thesis process, either. It won't take two and a half years."

"I don't know that I'm ready to be a college professor, though."

"Your objective is to get ready."

And he's right, but I never thought of it that way before.

"Charlie? I'm not going to the Island this year, am I? You haven't said anything about my going."

"No, you're not."

I must have looked stricken. His expression changed slightly, softened.

"Do you know why you're not?"

"Because you have another student you're training?"

"Actually, no. I'll be working with the same ally I had before you came here."

"I thought he moved, or something?"

"You thought in error."

"But you said...."

"I lied. Come on, think. Why can't you go to the Island this year with us?"

"Because June is going."


"I'm going to miss going."

"You'll be missed," he told me, but rather gruffly. I don't know if he meant he would miss me. "We'll see about subsequent years."

"How am I going to do all this? You're asking me to do the work of seven PhDs!" That being the number of professors I had in grad school.

"How the hell should I know? You figure it out and tell me."

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