College professors of all stripes moan and groan about students' unwillingness to read, but try to organize a faculty event requiring a little reading and what happens?
Nobody shows up.
Well, usually. In the past when I've planned book discussions or teaching workshops requiring just a smidgen of advance reading, attendance has been abysmal. Apparently, faculty members don't like to do homework any more than students do.
But today was different. Since September, we've given away free copies of Arum and Roksa's Academically Adrift to close to half of the faculty on our campus, and we've talked it up at every workshop and event sponsored by the Worthington Center for Teaching Excellence. We lined up two excellent colleagues to lead the discussion and served lunch to participants--all 24 of them. That's nearly a quarter of our full-time faculty, and certainly more than we've ever attracted for a book discussion. And even more have registered to attend the discussion of the second half of the book two weeks from now.
Was it the book's controversial content that reeled in so many of my colleagues or was it the free lunch? Were they so awed by the cool bookmarks publicizing the event that they simply couldn't stay away? Who knows? But as the discussion veered today toward questions about how to motivate students to study outside of class, I wanted to ask my colleagues: what motivated you to do your homework for today's discussion? Bottle up that motivation and sell it on the open market and we'll all make a bundle.