What to do when things go wrong

When I used to run an art museum as a director, a good friend who was an old hand at this business told me: “There are at least four ways to cope with a situation that is a disaster:
1) solve it the next time and fix it up this time,
2) give it to an assistant to take from the disaster stage to success (a feather in another’s hat),
3) work your butt off to transform the whole situation and if it remains a disaster
4) walk away and forget it ever happened (except that you make a report to yourself to file away in some obscure filing case, just if you are tempted to do it again).”

When I retired from the museum business in 2001 (have not retired from a 50-year career teaching), I walked away and forgot most of it (although I have extensive files). Therefore there are some courses I do not teach (although I have the credentials to teach them). I find that the system of teaching them and the academic system that supports the teaching of them is an anathma to my best teaching self. Even if superfacially they appear as successes, I know deep down that for me they are “disasters”. Those are the ones that I walk away from and forget. The files are for others who might pick up the work from where I left off.

I now teach one course (at least two sections) that I am more than good at, Art Appreciation, no more, no less. Could I teach others? Yes, but don’t! I totally understand Suzette’s walking away from one course that does not fit her idea of “exceptional teaching.” I love now being an “adjunct professor”; I was a “full” one for years. It is like Donna Brazile being an “adjunct” at Georgetown University while she is also involved in Democratic politics and a commentator for CNN. As an adjunct, you are free to choose.

I also do not stand on a railroad track when a “disaster” train is coming.


This is from the adjunct certification course and is one of Joe’s comments.

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