I Am Officially Distinguished

The Thursday before last I attended a meeting of the UCSB Academic Senate. There I stood, feeling rather stupid, in front of the assembly while the President of the Academic Senate read from a prepared text about my ability as a teacher pretty much roughly as follows:

Dr. Nicholas Tingle is a continuing lecturer in the Writing Program, and he has taught writing since 1980, before the Writing Program was even established. One of his supporters describes Nick as “a reflective teaching practitioner, as a gifted and supportive colleague, and as a wise, fair, and dedicated administrator.” Another states simply, “Nick is a supremely gifted teacher.”

A co-director of his program comments that “Nick has far exceeded expectations of lecturers whose primary duties are to teach nine courses per year,” noting that he “has regularly presented at all of the major conferences in our discipline, has published in the most important journals, and has published a number of important texts…”

Nonetheless, he adds, “it is in the area of teaching where Nick truly shines. Going into his fourth decade of service at UCSB, Nick has not merely rested on his well-deserved laurels as an excellent teacher; rather, he continues to think deeply about the interface between pedagogy, psychology and learning theory, in order to understand his role as a writing teacher, and to grow and evolve as a teacher”

One former student asserts the following of Dr. Tingle: “While being creative and entertaining, he was simultaneously the most efficient, organized, and effective teacher I have ever had.”

Finally, a letter from one of his former students speaks to Dr. Tingle’s impact in the classroom. The student writes, “the work that I completed in that course is the work I am most proud of from my years in college, as Nick encouraged us to explore and research a topic that we were passionate about. I think many of Nick’s students would agree that we got a better sense of who we are because of what Nick challenged us to do.”

For his dedication to teaching excellence Dr. Nicholas Tingle is awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award. Congratulations, Dr. Tingle!

Then Chancellor Yang, the head of UCSB, jumped up from his seat and insisted on posing next to me with the certificate awarded to A Distinguished Teacher, at which moment they following rather ridiculous picture (I look like Stan Laurel) was taken.

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After Carol took another picture that I like better.
DTA2.jpgThen yesterday I was told that the picture with Yang is now featured on the UCSB Writing Program website. That’s pretty cool.

wppageyang2.jpgThat’s about that for the DTY stuff, though I will get my 1000 dollar stipend May 7. I wonder what will be left after taxes.

The Pursuit of Happiness, Endlessly

I want to be happy, I guess. Though I would settle, if it is in fact settling, for J.S. Mills definition of that as the absence of pain or suffering. That would do me fine. But I think the great bulk of people who are not me (and that is the great bulk of people) want something more. Not that I would know myself what that might be exactly. I seem to know less and less about that mythical “most people.”

Zygmunt Bauman looks into this business of happiness in his “The Art of Life.” There he argues, pretty definitively, I think, that happiness has little or nothing to do with affluence. Experts have tracked the correlation of the rise in GNP with happiness, and they report, according to Bauman, “that improvements in living standards in such nations as the the United States and Britain are associated with no improvement–indeed a light decline–in subjective well being.” Further: “On the whole, only a few percentage points [on the happiness index] separate countries with an annual income per capita between 20,00 and 35,000 dollars from those below the barrier to 10,000 dollars.” Leading Baumont to assert: “The strategy of making people happier through raising their income does not seem to work.”

Apparently the “advanced” western nations have not only their own physical complaints, like colon cancer, but also their particular spiritual or psychological problems. Along with not being so happy, the people of the “advanced” nations also, according to Baumont suffer from “…an uncomfortable and uneasy sensation of uncertainty, hard to bear, let along live with permanently. Of diffuse and ambient uncertainty, ubiquitous yet seemingly unanchored, unspecified and for that reason all the more vexing and aggravating..”

He’s right about that. Whether or not we are heading to hell in a hand basket, there’s certainly a good deal of uncertainty about where we are heading, and how that direction, whatever it might be, will affect our daily walking around and whether or not we will find what we want in the grocery store or anything there at all. That could be paranoia. But if all the bees die, then more than likely so will we.

Consumer society has sought to salve the wound of this uncertainty by giving us plenty of goods to consume. This, however, has not led, according to Baumont, to happiness but to the endless pursuit of it. Baumont puts it, “One of the most seminal effects of equating happiness with shopping for commodities which are hoped to generate happiness is to stave off the chance that the pursuit of happiness will never end.” As one of my students put it, “I looked in my closet. It was completely full. But I had absolutely nothing to wear.” Her clothes, because of incessant changes in fads, had worn themselves out just hanging there.

Somebody benefits I suppose from this incessant churning of goods. Somebody is making profit, and the endless pursuit itself keeps the wheels of industry world wide churning. If Americans and the members of the other western nations suddenly stopped consuming, the whole damn world economy would collapse.

But we’re not going to find happiness this way, even as the absence of pain. 

Blogging Again

I started this blog back in 2006 I think because, at the time, we, my brothers and I, knew our father, W.B. was at death’s door. His death and the next year Joan’s, our mothers, and the events surrounding both seemed to have given me or fueled me with some sort of energy that led me, especially in the early phases of this blog, to remember and then recount moments from my childhood and teenage years.

But things have changed. I think about doing a blog entry, and either nothing or too much comes to mind and I don’t write anything.

The original energy is not there, and I think it significant that this year the anniversaries of the deaths of Joan and W.B. slipped by me without acknowledgement on the blog. The anniversary of W.B.’s death slipped by me until a couple of days after it has passed. Then I remembered it.

He died February 7, 2006.

Joan died April 10, 2007.

That my blog energy has changed doesn’t mean though that I have come to terms with the death of either exactly or my ongoing and changing feelings about them. Freud said the most significant event in a man’s if is the death of his father. I don’t know that he is right, but even if he is half or a quarter right that would suggest the death of one’s father is a kind of defining event, not something easily overcome, resolved, or put in mothballs.

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Here are Joan and Bill at the Delridge House in front of the Delridge fireplace.  I do remember a time when W.B. sported a mustache.  I think this picture was probably taken in the  late 80’s.

Distinguished Teacher of the Year (2009-2010)

Wednesday of this last week was hot for us. Eighty degrees at four o’clock, and with no air conditioning and afternoon light streaming in my classroom was cooking and my students sagging. Just as I was to start, in walks this young, handsome guy with lots of hair (unlike me) with tattoos running up and down his arms and his little dog trailing behind him on a leash. He said he was from the Arts Department and had an announcement to make. I said OK, since I don’t mind announcements. Then the guy began to read from a prepared statement indicating that I, Nick Tingle, had been selected Distinguished Teacher of the Year (2009-2010) from among the non-senate faculty.

I was embarrassed and surprised sitting there having praise heaped on me. The students didn’t really get what was going on, but applauded politely at the appropriate moment. The guy took his dog from a student who had been holding it and left. Then I had to teach for an hour and forty minutes. By the time that was over, I felt as if the whole thing with the guy with the dog and tattoos had been an hallucination.

I honestly wasn’t sure it had happened. The University makes mistakes. For example, I knew I had been nominated for the honor, and I had been informed in an email that the person selected would be notified by the end of last week. Having not heard anything by the end of that week, I concluded I had been passed over, and had already gone through denial and then anger in the grieving process. What a waste of energy…and then this guy shows up.

Given who I am (paranoid) and the slight irregularity of the situation, I still was not convinced it had happened the following morning. Eventually though I got this: Tingle.pdf

So it looks like it did happen, and I have indeed been selected as Distinguished Teacher of the Year (2009-2010).

And I am honored.

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The guy with tattoos.