I’m a fan of vampire novels, having read more than my fair share of them since the 1980s. I was extraordinarily pleased when James Gee, in his keynote presentation at the DePaul Faculty Teaching and Learning Conference yesterday, compared faculty to vampires. It’s an idea I’ve had before, and listening to him helped me to better articulate what I mean by the comparison.
Like vampires, faculty spend their lives watching the gap in age between them and the people around them grow. I get older each year, but the freshman I teach will always be 18. Partly for this reason faculty can lose touch with the culture that their students share, which I think is one of reasons the presentation scheduled opposite mine at the conference entitled “Today’s College Students: What Makes them so Different from When I Was in College?” was so wildly popular. Faculty who don’t continue to educate themselves risk staying stuck in time. Those who teach computing have an advantage, since it’s nearly impossible to stay employed and not keep up with the latest developments in technology. But there are other ways to lose touch, and it’s a danger that all faculty recognize.
So once again I have to thank the organizers of the conference yesterday. Not only did they bring together many faculty interested in staying in touch, but they also put in front of us someone who could intelligently and relevantly discuss characters from Anne Rice novels. I must admit though that I’m tempted to send him the Twilight books so he can update his references.