Higher Education Webinars

The Education of Oronte Churm

Oronte Churm is the pen name of John Griswold, who teaches in the MFA program at McNeese State University, proudly nestled in Cajun country on the Louisiana Gulf.

May 23, 2007 - 7:34am
My acquaintance Chaz and I were imagining an ideal teacher. Actually, we’d been talking about the future, when I intend to move my family to some fallow farm and live an idyll of slow food, deep thought, and lazy fun. Chaz plans to quit the academic IT business in a huff and live in a pop-up camper back in the woods on our property.
May 20, 2007 - 9:03am
I succumbed this week and created my own MySpace page , largely on the advice of a New York Times article about artistic networking. According to my acquaintance Chaz, a midlevel IT manager at a Big 10 school, this puts me, in terms of technology use, still far behind his two year-old niece but ahead of 90 percent of all other academics in America. Academics may not use MySpace, but the rest of America seems to be there.
May 16, 2007 - 8:02pm
May 14, 2007 - 11:26am
Oh sure, Sir Isaac Newton wrote the Principia and Opticks and all, and he too was Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge, but he probably never did this: Professor Stephen Hawking rides the Vomit Comet and sings Led Zeppelin
May 11, 2007 - 11:52am
May 9, 2007 - 5:27pm
The end is near: It’s time to grade the stacks of final papers, estimate student participation grades, tabulate everything and record the sums. Yesterday it was also time for my ritual end-of-semester shearing. I dislike getting haircuts intensely, but I couldn’t stand being trapped in this house any longer—not another gottverdammt minute in this lovely old house—and set off to get some sun on my hairy white shins, on the walk of shame.
May 4, 2007 - 3:03pm
My mother and I were sitting in a booth in a J.C. Penney’s lunchroom, sometime in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s, when the store manager made an announcement on the intercom, and suddenly my mind began to work in a new way. I can still hear the tenor of the man’s voice and the slight echo from speakers at various depths in the store, but his words are gone.
May 1, 2007 - 9:57pm
My mother-in-law and I were discussing small-town life. She’s originally from Inverness, Scotland, which used to be smaller than it is now, and I grew up in Buckhorn, a town of 10,000 in Southern Illinois. We agreed it’s a common misconception that everyone knows everyone else in a small town, but we also agreed there are certain characters that everyone does know, who help forge the common identity of place. In Inverness, it was street-dweller Forty Pockets, named for the layers of clothing he wore, no matter the weather.
April 27, 2007 - 5:43pm
I may have the best deal in all of adjunctdom. My teaching load is 3/3, and I have full health coverage. My pay is only $20,000 less than if I was on the tenure track at Hinterland, doing the same thing. If I were tenured, with my current time in service, I’d be making double what I am now. I’m often asked to teach 400-level independent studies, for free, and I serve on committees and constantly mentor university-scholar students in an attempt to be a good departmental citizen. I even go to the director’s bonfire parties, when tenured faculty don’t bother to show.
April 25, 2007 - 7:59am
When I was accepted to grad school, I had a big problem: In order to get my fellowship, I’d have to teach. I’d always been terrified of public speaking. As an undergrad I talked my Speech-Comm TA into letting me write papers instead of making required speeches. (Convincing him took rhetorical skill, right?)

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