So with an active thread in which I express doubt about celebrations, special occasions and recruiting others into displays of unqualified affirmation, today at the annual awards ceremony I discovered that I was named professor of the year at my university. The smoke and mirrors worked! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
While I was on the market I interviewed at a little alternative college within a larger state university. It had been established by counterculture hippies back in the day, several of whom were still around. Interestingly, they had hired a younger generation of lefty identity politicians who turned out not to share their gentle humanism, and the resulting transition tensions were so severe that they were unable to agree on a candidate and cancelled the search.
The hippies liked me a lot. I was later told about one of them I especially hit it off with that he was legendary because since the founding of the college he had been offered the teaching award every couple of years, and every time he turned it down. As I recall he believed that teaching and learning is a collective virtue, we’re all in it together, it is its own reward, and making invidious distinctions is beside the point. I thought, wow, that’s pure. I agree, but I’m not sure I’d turn down the award! And I didn’t.