I’m almost at the end of the tunnel that was teaching this trimester*. It’s not my first time teaching or coordinating. I started this position last year, and I’ve had a few casual contracts before at different unis.
But I found this trimester particularly hard, mostly because of the amount of new content I had to create. This was largely due to a very outdated set of inherited lectures in one unit and a new set of topics allocated to me in the other unit.
I am utterly exhausted. I have had very little time to think about research, do research, write blogs, relax, sew, play my guitar, or do anything non-work-related since February (except for a few days of being unwell!).
This blog is not to whinge. I love my job, I love teaching and I really love the units I teach.
I am not the only academic to experience teaching fatigue. But it is unsustainable and new staff members, particularly early career researchers, seem to suffer this most. Yet it’s a ‘too hard basket’ problem that most academics don’t know what to do about.
I’ve just written a few lectures for a first year ecology unit on history and philosophy of ecology. I remembered my own undergrad education, dominated by the male European history of science, and didn’t want to repeat that history. Ecology is so much more that!
Modern science is founded on western philosophy, so it’s understandable that European science gets most of the attention. But despite what most of us learned at school, scientists aren’t all male and there were many non-European scientists that contributed to the development of modern scientific knowledge.
Most importantly, Indigenous people’s knowledge is tied to place, and we often ignore the wealth of knowledge about ecological interactions and processes that Indigenous cultures hold, as well as the respectful environmental interaction (management) that is embedded in country and culture.
This is a list of some good resources that I found useful to highlight an inclusive history of the development of ecological science, at an introductory level. There are more nuanced details, but these resources simply highlight the important fact that science has developed from diverse minds, not just a select few white guys. Some of those famous guys deserve the credit, others don’t so much.
Homo sapiens are the great Communicators. That’s what apparently makes us more advanced than all the other animal species on Earth—we can talk, write, sing, dance and draw pictures to describe what we are trying to say. And we can conjure up a plethora of technological and physical aids to help us.
So one might say it’s ironic that, of all the animal species, we suffer the most from misunderstanding and lack of communication. Other animals may have what we call simple, primitive communication tools, but they never pick up the wrong end of the stick. When a group of meerkats spies an approaching predator and starts screeching and jittering around, old mate foraging on his own down the hill doesn’t just roll his eyes and mutter ‘Women!’ under his breath, he hightails it out of there. Continue reading