Friday, June 29, 2012

Time for a real vacation

I think it's time to take a few days really away from math and the web, mostly because I have some pressing family events coming up. Those events need some real attention: I have a lot of family here in the country I'm visiting and am in some sense bicultural, but I have not lived here for any length of time as an adult and so the dance of politeness and family can be less than fluent. We'll see what can be done. Poor introverts! As I learned from the book "Quiet," introverts observe human interactions as keenly and insightfully as anyone, but at times have trouble performing the dual tasks of observing and participating. I need to do both for the next few days.

So, to what extent do complete vacations improve mathematical thought? I am used to keeping a problem rolling around like a stone in a polisher, tumbling into my conscious thought at odd moments. Really setting it aside is a bit unusual. Perhaps during the semester while paying close attention to student needs I did so, but did not notice so much because of the pressing demands of the moment. Maybe it's better to make a real choice to put aside the math for a few days rather than having it be accepted under duress. People say it's good for you. Are they right?

The book "Quiet" also has a lot to say about why I found teaching 3-3 stressful in a way I hadn't imagined. I don't think I made enough time during the day for retreating into my introverted shell after being "on" for 2-3 hours teaching, 2 hours with students, and a meeting or two. This is a drawback of an open-door policy that is taken very literally. I need to mull over this a bit. Dreamed about teaching last night: I had to come up with a bunch of readings on ethics -- good and evil -- for a small seminar class. I was excited about it although rather stressed by the short time frame given for coming up with a reading list, especially since I've never taught a philosophy or ethics class! Maybe my desire to teach is reviving from its wilted state.

June... almost over...

see you in July!

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