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Life on the Tenure Track: Lessons from the First Year Paperback – April 6, 2005
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A beautifully written book, part memoir, part meditation, part user's manual―all the parts held together by the personality and reflections of the author who is by turns exuberant, anxious, triumphant, rueful, and always immensely appealing. Anyone who has ever taught will find waiting on the pages of this book the shock, and pleasure, of recognition.(Stanley Fish, University of Illinois at Chicago)
With humor and pathos, Jim Lang tells a powerful story of his first year as a college teacher, offering a wealth of insights that will help graduate students and new faculty―and maybe even not-so-new faculty―learn to survive and flourish as good teachers. I came away with a renewed appreciation of the very real challenges and opportunities we face as educators.(Ken Bain, author of What the Best College Teachers Do)
Jim Lang's account of the ups and downs of his first year of college teaching make me wish I had taken notes during my own first contact with the other side of the desk. That year was longer ago than I care to mention, but I found it suddenly before me with a vividness that I can only attribute to Lang's evocative writing.(Dennis Baron, University of Illinois)
May become the 'bible' for graduate students and new faculty. Lang's descriptions and analysis sparkle with warmth, humor, goodwill, and honesty. I found myself rooting for him, and viewed him as a mentor, turning the page looking for his very thoughtful advice. I would enthusiastically recommend this book to graduate students, adjunct professors, tenure-track and tenured faculty, and administrators.(Lynn Sacco, University of Tennessee)
Jim Lang is a great guide whose warm, honest, funny, and poignant book will give advice and comfort to all panicked souls standing in front of a class for the first time, or wondering whether to speak at department meetings with senior professors who seem to know everything.(Emily Toth, Ms. Mentor from the Chronicle of Higher Education)
Lang is a wonderfully engaging writer... he's obviously deeply committed to the craft of teaching and the craft of writing.(Dr. Erica Dreifus Adjunct Advocate)
Faculty at all levels will recognize their own experiences somewhere in this short, perceptive, and ultimately entertaining account of academic life.(Rebecca Manley Academic Matters)
Lang demonstrates that there are many largely universal survival struggles and self-doubts which are shared in common by most of us embarking on a new career in the academy.(Alan E. Bayer Journal of Higher Education)
Offers a lively report on how it looks and feels to shoot the academic rapids today.(Mary Taylor Huber Change)
I would not be surprised if [ Life on the Tenure Track] became one of the texts distributed by teaching and learning centers to new assistant professors at orientation workshops. It would serve them well.(Patricia Donahue College English)
An interesting and accessible narrative.(Mark Hulsether Teaching Theology and Religion)
About the Author
James M. Lang is an assistant professor at Assumption College.
Top Customer Reviews
From Lang's description, it sounds like he has all the qualities of "slow starters" illustrated in Robert Boice's book _Advice for New Faculty Members: Nihil Nimus_: he is impatient, overly ambitious in his goals, under-estimates how much time things take, will not work unless he has large blocks of time, allows other things to cut into his research time, and does not try to improve his work habits in realistic ways by taking advantage of the time that he does have. The one time he takes out a project, he tries to tackle it all at once, becomes discouraged by its immensity, and then puts it away. I kept cheering for him to discover better work habits, but he never did.
I did like his lessons about teaching and adapting to one's course, and found it refreshing to hear an honest discussion of the dynamics of departmental politics, and reassuring to hear how he felt initial hesitation to ask for advice, but always got good advice when he asked.
I think this book reads more like a creative nonfiction, to use the author's own words, rather than a book that helps new faculty to find their bearings. I feel like I can relate more to the author's experiences just because I have had similar struggles and realizations. But to new faculty members who are just starting, I am sure it is helpful, but the book is definitely not like a "manual" that one can refer to.
Since the author talks about being on the tenure-track with a heavy teaching load, it might not be very helpful to people who have just one or two courses each semester and do have tons of time to do research. I agree with the author that if one has too much teaching responsibility, it is very hard to do research, at least in the first year. For one thing, your mental energy might just be depleted after a busy day of teaching. You don't have the mental energy to do highly-demanding intellectual logical reasoning.
As one other reviewer points out, the author says that doing any research in the first year on a tenure track is just not very possible. This is a little disappointing, I assume, for many people. If you read other "manual" type of book, they will tell you how to start right from the first year, because your tenure preparation time is actually only five years, not six years.
One thing I find a little confusing about the book is the author's insistence on using the present tense.Read more ›
If anything else, his personable ethos makes for an comforting time with a friend, which is to be appreciated.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have been reading quite a few books about and by academics. This one was a pretty good one. I am a child of two former college professors and I am also a doctoral student. Read morePublished on August 31, 2010 by LKnomad
"Life on the Tenure Track" is a refreshingly funny look at the life of a new teacher. Being a new teacher myself, I could easily relate to Lang's story and I think I have been in a... Read morePublished on March 26, 2008 by Shanedra D. Nowell
James Lang has a gift for writing, and writing honestly. His story is one that anyone within or interested in the academic world can relate to. Read morePublished on December 16, 2007 by Franciscan
Lang does an excellent job describing the job of an assistant professor, as well as documenting an interesting personal journey.Published on May 25, 2007 by Amazon Customer