I’ve never been very good at introducing myself. Doing that well requires that I have some sense of who I am, and I’m still trying to figure that out.
I remember a particular class in college when I looked across the room at the professor teaching the class and thought something like “I want to be you when I grow up.” I finished college, went to graduate school, and managed to realize that dream: just like that professor, I had a tenured position teaching philosophy and religious studies at Wesleyan College, a small liberal arts college for women in Georgia.
However, in the time between my time as a college student and my time as a college professor, I met and married a woman with her own career aspirations. We agreed when leaving graduate school that we would take turns in our career moves. As we neared the beginning of the 10th year of my time as a college professor, she reminded me of that deal. At the end of my 10th year, I ended my time as a tenured professor and began a (thankfully) short time as an unemployed trailing spouse. Happily, I secured a non-teaching position at Vanderbilt and began on the second stage of my career, this time working in the field generally known as faculty development. I worked with professors and graduate students as they reflected on the practice of teaching, and also taught part-time.
My wife and I continued taking turns in career moves. She followed me to the DC area, where I was a director at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship at Georgetown. Then she moved us to Boston, where I worked as the founding Executive Director of Boston College’s Center for Teaching Excellence. I retired in 2019, though I unretired for an additional year of working and teaching part-time at Georgetown during the first full year of Covid.
Now I’m fully retired and I’m fortunate enough to spend my time thinking, reading, doing work around the house, and riding my bicycle. And, I should say, attempting to write something. Posts here are rather rough writing – as the title suggests, I’m thinking out loud.
About the site
This is pretty much a standard blog. Though someday I might draft some longer, more considered pieces, for the most part it will include daily meanderings on a wide range of topics — basically, whatever occupies my mind on a particular day. Some of it will likely be rather quotidian.
One aspect of the site that’s different from many is the collection of what I’m calling Commonplace entries – indicated, appropriately enough, by the “commonplace” tag. Here I’m picking up on a tradition of people maintaining Commonplace books. My version — though this might also evolve a bit — includes quoted passages from books that I’m reading that I find particularly interesting or provocative. I can’t promise that they’ll all make sense out of their context, but I provide citation information for anyone intrigued enough to learn more about a particular entry.
For various reasons – but, really, primarily because I’m stubborn about these things – I’m writing and posting this site using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). And it’s a static site. One of the challenges I’ve faced is enabling comments on the site. I think the comment feature is important, but I’m not tech-savvy enough to roll my own system. So I’ve compromised on the FOSS front by using utterances for comments. That’s a compromise because, even though utterances itself is FOSS, it uses a repository on Github to house and serve comments. Github is owned by Microsoft. Microsoft is not a FOSS company.
Using utterances introduces a bit of friction to the commenting process, because writing a comment requires that one have a github account. Since this isn’t a tech-heavy blog, I’m guessing that many readers (as if there were many readers!) have very little need for a github account and therefore won’t be able to comment unless they create one. (The process of creating one is pretty smooth, though – just click on the “Sign in with Github” button and then click on “Create an account.”) If you don’t have and don’t want a Github account and still want to respond to something here, one can always use email and mastodon – links in the navbar to the left.