Slow Professor proposes with some optimism that professors -- especially those with tenure -- have the power to change the direction of the university by becoming the eye of the storm, working deliberately and thoughtfully in ways that somehow now seem taboo.There are any number of ways to push back. When an electronic mail comes in with a "Respond ASAP," treat "P" as meaning "When Hell Freezes Over." When a research idea occurs to you, let the idea rattle around in your brain for a while. Go cold-turkey on connectivity, preferably for a week, or all summer, if you're on a nine month contract.
“Distractedness and fragmentation characterize contemporary academic life; we believe that slow ideals restore a sense of community and conviviality … which sustain political resistance,” Berg and Seeber say. “Slow professors act with purpose, cultivating emotional and intellectual resilience to the effects of the corporatization of higher education.”
Avoid or eliminate to the extent possible environmental factors that interfere with creativity, the book says. Protect “a time and a place for timeless time” and continually remind yourself “that this is not self-indulgent but rather crucial to intellectual work.”There is no such thing as "doing nothing at all," as those ideas are percolating. Let the ideas percolate. And disregard all the foolishness from faculty "development," which alternates between sage-or-guide and more-effective-technologies, and act like the expert you are.
Slow Professor proposes getting off-line as much as possible and doing less by thinking of scheduling as eliminating commitment’s from one’s day, not taking them on. Perhaps most importantly, it proposes leaving room in one’s schedule for regular “timeless time,” starting with some kind of relaxing, transitional ritual. Incorporate playfulness and shun those negative self-thoughts.
And don’t forget leaving time to do nothing at all, the book says.
In a separate discussion on “pedagogy and pleasure,” Slow Professor advocates for the in-person classroom model over online. It argues that teaching is an undeniably emotional activity for which one should be physically present, and that students also benefit from working face-to-face with their peers.
Slow Professor also addresses research pressures, saying that slow scholarship must stand against perverse incentives for publication or a rush to “findings” at the expense of scholarly value. Noting how one of the authors’ colleagues was once admiringly referred to as a “machine,” the book questions the very way in which academics talk about one another’s productivity, saying, “Slowing down is a matter of ethical import. To drive oneself as if one were a machine should be recognized as a form of self-harm. … Furthermore, being machine-like will hardly generate compassion for others.”Beyond that, do you really want to wait until a colleague dies to find out what sort of outside interests or what a wild past that person might have had?
Overwork can make colleagues jealous, impatient and rushed, Slow Professor reads, while slowing down “is about allowing room for others and otherness. And in that sense, slowing down is an ethical choice.”
The book argues that waiting can be a good thing -- one of the authors once hurriedly submitted a manuscript before she was ready, only to have it rejected, for example (it was eventually accepted, after a break) -- and that more is not necessarily better when it comes to research. It notes that every professor has a “shadow CV” of detours, delays and abandoned projects, and argues that academics should be more open and less shameful about this side of their work. Slow Professor advocates walking to the library, saying that digitization has led to a decrease in the range of scholarly references, not a broadening, and that reading books and articles that aren’t immediately germane to the task at hand is actually a good thing.
“And as many say, keep calm and write on,” the book reads.
A final portion of the book is dedicated to slowing down to enjoy one’s colleagues. Corporatization of the university has led to an instrumental view of not only time and space, but also each other, Berg and Seeber say. Yet collaboration and even professional venting mark healthy workspaces, where the absence of it can lead to whining.