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Author Topic: Cold Turkey vs. Tapering Off  (Read 44692 times)
juvenal
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Juvenal


« on: July 16, 2011, 2:43:56 PM »

Looking at the "Retirement" category in the fora, I'm a bit surprised to find it not particularly active.  And yet, if the grave does not swallow us first, retirement is in the future of all of us academics.

Perhaps active posters--I'm astonished at the number of posts some folks have made [when do they have a chance to eat, I wonder?]--think "retirement" is something for other people to consider, not them.

Or could it be "whistling past the graveyard"?

But, to continue. 

I have reached the vicinity of a decision point.  I am a year beyond being able to first collect SS, but have opted to continue in the classroom... for a while.  But how long?

Unfortunately, to continue in the classroom, means doing m.o.l. what I've done for some years now (introductory STEM courses) and I feel stale.  To wrench myself into the newer modes of instruction (I'm not entirely beyond using technology) seems possible, but I wonder if the effort (considering the likely brevity of my future engagement) is really worth it. 

So, I dither: Continue in the classroom; retire and adjunct; retire and sink into terminal idleness?

I ponder these matters this summer, when I find the aestival inertness is not really very satisfactory (too many junky novels; too many martinis), and yet the thought of chalk 'n' PowerPoints and grading lab reports in little more than a month is not enthralling, either.  But if not "enthralling," not repellent, either.  Just that it's been a long time doing the same things.

Yes, yes, I know.  Everyone needs to make his/her own decision, but I wonder about folks who made the decision to fully retire... and are regretting it.  Anyone out there?  Eat that olive, drain that glass, and give me your thoughts.  Reasons to continue in the classroom?
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michigander
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2011, 7:17:42 PM »

My career was in staff positions, not faculty, so YMMV.

You're correct that what you face is a very personal decision.  But there is one factor that anyone who retires voluntarily should consider.  Do you have a plan for what you will do all day long every day once you stop having a full-time job to do?  If you have a sufficient combination of social activities, saved up interesting projects, children/grandchildren/family/friends to travel to visit, other travel plans, volunteer activites, books that you want to read, and so forth, you can decide to retire full-time anytime you want to.  If not and you're able to do so, you may want to retire gradually.

The first time I "retired" it wasn't my idea, so no combination of things to do could make me happy.  Therefore, I found a way to go back to work.  But, much to my surprise, I discovered that I really didn't want to be working anymore.  So now I'm voluntarily retired as of mid-June.  I find that in order to keep from feeling socially isolated and like I'm pissing my days away, I've needed to build into my life reasons to get up in the morning and get out of the house.  So I will be a part-time tutor at a local college starting in the fall, I've joined a gym for the first time in my life, and I've started volunteering at the local adult literacy center.  I try to do these things in the mornings so that I'll have the afternoons for my projects and naps and the evenings for my social interactions.  But that's me.

My father is also retired and has been for a number of years.  He was able to structure his retirement differently and slowly decreased the amount of time he devoted to his professional practice on a daily/weekly/monthly basis until he was no longer working.  That's kind of what you seem to be considering, and if that's what will work better for you, that's what you should try to do.

Congratulations on reaching this milestone, and good luck.  There's still lots to do.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 7:19:29 PM by michigander » Logged
fiona
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2011, 1:40:27 AM »

I know a lot of retired academics who are active teaching classes (we have a no-credit emeritus college). The "students" are anyone over 50, and there are reading assignments but no tests or papers to write.

The teachers get paid about $500 per class, but that's not what it's about.

Teachers and students find these classes intellectually exciting, esp. because they can study (and teach) things they've always wanted to know but never had time for. The history classes are said to be the best, because people who've lived awhile want to figure out what the events of their lifetime meant.

One prof I know is teaching a course about Freud and reading everything about/by him. For the first time, the prof has time to do so.

So that's one suggestion, for using your mind but not stressing.

The Fiona

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questor1
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2011, 2:27:32 PM »

I know cold turkey (I don't know what I am going to do but I am out of here -- these faculty are the most fun to talk to) and the tapering off as in teaching a course for adjunct pay or hanging around labs. We have a retired faculty club and also have the adult learning classes that pay $500 -- history, economics, literature, art & religion are all popular. Current faculty teach these as well as retired faculty. One former faculty guy in his 80s was pointed out to me walking across campus. He comes in for free coffee every day.
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polly_mer
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2011, 4:19:53 PM »

I am nowhere near retirement age, but the folks around me appear to go with the taper option.  They now only teach the fun stuff in the time slots that appeal to them.  They also take the opportunity to experiment a bit with their classes.  Juvenal, you mentioned possibly wanting to learn new things.  Well, you can taper into learning new things as well.  Convert just one unit into whatever technology-thingy, new-style-pedagogy tickles your fancy and teach the rest of the class as you have been doing.  Is it worth a couple days or even a week to try something new?  Since you ask if you have to retire to boredom, I'm betting the answer is yes.

Also, being just a year beyond social security may mean that you have twenty or even thirty years left of life.  One of the niftiest biographies I read was about an astronomer who was shoved out of his emeritus position after decades, was offered a position at another place, and moved when in his nineties.  He spent almost ten years in that new position created for a still-somewhat-active guy in the field who needed a new home with a non-full-time workload.
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questor1
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2011, 7:20:23 PM »

I thought someone emeritus kept that title until they died, could be I am wrong. I like that story though. I have observed that those that taper off slowly loved their work/campus and they are more likely to identify with the university if it is famous and stick around because their identity is tied up in that. Also true if in a good location. Thinking about tapering off in the modern sense, with the Internet, one can keep connected anywhere so location is less important than before and one could dip in and out of involvement. I know most retired faculty or administrators won't write reference letters anymore or review papers or manuscripts or write grants. Sometimes they will show up at a conference because they were a past president or have friends they want to see or it is in a fabulous location and they write it off their taxes or to pick up an award.
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2011, 7:28:06 PM »

I thought someone emeritus kept that title until they died, could be I am wrong.

I don't know that anyone revoked the title, but I can think of multiple cases where the office space and/or lab space was repurposed because the emeritus person wasn't using it as much as the new TT person that the department was hiring would use it.

I also have a great story about an NMR guy in his seventies who went to become someone's very experienced "post-doc" for the same reason of being kicked out of the space for not being as productive as the new hires.  That guy apparently had multiple offers when the situation hit the grapevine because, even though the university thought he was deadwood, the people in the field were thrilled to have a senior colleague to help kick around ideas and do a bit of supervision on a part-time basis and were not shy about offering a new home, including access to the lab equipment.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 7:29:09 PM by polly_mer » Logged

I've joined a bizarre cult called JordanCanonicalForm's Witnesses.  I have to go from door to door asking people things like, "Good evening, sir!  Do you have a moment to chat about Linear Transformations?"
monarda
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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2011, 12:12:46 AM »

Once, in an airport shuttle, on the way to a job interview, I met a retiree who kept busy working in VAP positions all over the place.  He was teaching in his field (foreign language) wherever he decided to live for that semester/year (he had landed a string of VAPs).  I found that a cool idea. Way to keep things fresh as you 'taper'.  Certainly would work better in some fields than others.
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2011, 10:11:19 AM »

Once, in an airport shuttle, on the way to a job interview, I met a retiree who kept busy working in VAP positions all over the place.  He was teaching in his field (foreign language) wherever he decided to live for that semester/year (he had landed a string of VAPs).  I found that a cool idea. Way to keep things fresh as you 'taper'.  Certainly would work better in some fields than others.

Blocky was delivered by an obstetrician who was doing the same thing of taking short-term assignments to keep his hand in, but with the possibility for extended vacations and travel between six month assignments.
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I've joined a bizarre cult called JordanCanonicalForm's Witnesses.  I have to go from door to door asking people things like, "Good evening, sir!  Do you have a moment to chat about Linear Transformations?"
brixton
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2011, 2:58:27 PM »

My father was a small town professional (think doctor/lawyer/cpa).  Quit cold turkey.  Moved with mother to large urban metro area. Started taking painting classes.  Is now known fairly well as a artist -- teaches classes at the local watercolor society.  Has mounted several juried shows. Sells his paintings for $1000/piece. That's how I want to do it -- cold turkey and become someone completely different.... without dumping one's spouse.
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msparticularity
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Assistant Professor cum bricoleur


« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2011, 1:49:45 AM »

My dad did--and is still doing--the tapering thing. He taught half-time for several years, with a semester on full-time and a semester off each year. He also did some service stuff and odd jobs, including filling in for a sabbatical leave for colleague who was a department chair. Also, and perhaps of more interest, he has returned to his original scholarly interests (from early in his doctoral career) and is actually publishing and presenting more now than he did for many years.
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penthesilia
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2011, 10:24:43 AM »

Personally I love teachers and professors who have been teaching the longest, for the love of it. They are a treasure and the time a student spends with them is not a right, but a privilege.
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proftowanda
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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2012, 8:27:22 PM »

I thought someone emeritus kept that title until they died, could be I am wrong. I like that story though. I have observed that those that taper off slowly loved their work/campus and they are more likely to identify with the university if it is famous and stick around because their identity is tied up in that. Also true if in a good location. Thinking about tapering off in the modern sense, with the Internet, one can keep connected anywhere so location is less important than before and one could dip in and out of involvement. I know most retired faculty or administrators won't write reference letters anymore or review papers or manuscripts or write grants. Sometimes they will show up at a conference because they were a past president or have friends they want to see or it is in a fabulous location and they write it off their taxes or to pick up an award.

That is the tradition at any (several -- public, private, large, small) campuses where I have worked.  That is, titles do not get revoked -- but privileges are different.  The title does not automatically convey any privileges.  Those may be awarded but may need to be modified, such as for office space.
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