I have once again “caught up” on my blog reading. Very nice! We laughed so hard when Katie and Joel first told us the “square coffee mug” story.

Alio! The “self closing toilet lid” sounds dangerous! 🙂

Just had an hour and a half long talk with Prof. Ming Huang from Arcadia, California. He teaches at USC (computer science) and has a son interested in PHC. He knows the Fans. He is Taiwanese, and his wife a “Mainlander.” Both from Taipei. Very nice talk. English, Chinese, and Taiwanese all freely intermixed.

I know this is long. Feel free to skip or skim. But I worked hard on it (Mom also read it and gave some suggestions). Got some stuff off my chest. This is a (required) “self evaluation” professors do at PHC (in light of “student evaluations,” at least in part). I share it partly because all of you have been so concerned and supportive. It’s gonna get better, I think. Lot’s of students have been incredibly kind. The * is a footnote detailing the many evenings and Saturdays, the very long hours…

Self-Evaluation Report for 2003

Steven R. Hake

I have made every effort to be brief. Please read this with care. I have included all four areas, but changed the order somewhat for emphasis.

Advising:

I have twenty-three advisees. While I have not been able in recent semesters to spend as much one-on-one time with them as I did for awhile, I have tried very hard to care for them. I have continued to pray specifically for them and touch bases with them as frequently as possible. I think if you asked them, they would say that they sensed and appreciated my concern.

In addition, many students have come to me, and parents have called me, for counsel of various kinds, and I have never turned any away. I usually feel that God used the counsel and people were encouraged and built up.

Faculty Service:

The main things I have done recently are put together, or help put together, proposals for the two literature tracks.

The masterworks track, which will be fully rolled out this coming academic year, provides a balanced, comprehensive undergraduate training in literature, including history, genre, and major author courses, as well as a theory & criticism and a linguistics course. This will prepare our students very thoroughly for graduate work or jobs in the field.

The proposal for the revised creative and professional writing track , with which I had the able help of my colleagues Drs. Noe, Mitchell, and Smith, also represents a thoroughly researched and thought through approach that, if adopted, will provide our writers with very solid undergraduate training to enable them to make specific and important contributions to the “shaping of culture” through the written word.

In addition, I offered a “Christian Classics” course to the PHC and HSLDA communities on an extra-curricular basis, which was well-received. Many thanked me for this. I also studied The Measure of a Man with interested men.

At church I taught regularly, preached occasionally, lead a growth group in our home, and served on a family discipleship task force. Many ask about PHC and have become more interested in the college as a result of these activities.

Professional Development:

I have not done as much of the language study mentioned in earlier reports because of the heavy burden of developing and teaching many new courses (see below). I think I have developed a great deal professionally, however, as I have transitioned from “teach lit to government majors” (as hired a few years back) to “prepare lit majors and writers for grad school and careers of major cultural influence” (an exciting opportunity, but also a huge challenge). I have listened to countless courses and classic books during my commute to and from school which have been very helpful to me. And I have done a great deal of reading and study both at school and at home. I have appreciated our “professional development allowance” which has enabled me to buy important works, reading them with care and marking them up.

Teaching:

I have taught the following courses:

Spring ’03:

210-1 Western Lit I (three credits) thirty-two students

210-2 Western Lit I (three credits) twenty-four students

210-3 Western Lit I (three credits) twenty students

210-D Western Lit I (distance version) (three credits) nineteen students

300 Topics in Literature (three credits) eight students

Summer ’03:

100 Research and Writing (one credit) four students

Fall ’03:

220-1 Western Lit II (three credits) twenty students

220-2 Western Lit II (three credits) twenty-four students

220-3 Western Lit II (three credits) eighteen students

400 Dickens (three credits) ten students

340 Fiction Writing (three credits) eight students

Number of preparations: Seven (including the distance version of Western Lit I as a separate prep, which is entirely reasonable)

Final Comments:

In order to teach so many courses, so many new courses, to teach them at a high level of excellence (“As good as the Ivies, please, or better.”), and under the burden of anonymous student criticism, I have worked very hard for the last several semesters (long hours here, and even much longer hours at home).* I am not complaining, I am simply stating facts. I love my work and I believe in it. I have always tried to be where God wants me to be. My wife, my children, and my aged parents have all been very patient and very supportive, though the long hours have squeezed us all. I cannot continue to put in these long hours indefinitely. I am very thankful that we have moved from ten back to eight courses as a full-time load. I am doing two preps this semester (if you include Topics in Lit, in which I am using all new texts and a new approach), and I am laying the groundwork for nine new lit courses for next year, most of which I will teach. Again, I am happy to do this, but it is very challenging. I have reason to think that this coming academic year will be the last “really crazy” one, once the masterworks track courses are in place. By God’s grace, I (and my family) will patiently endure. We look forward to relief.

A few final words about student evaluations (last semester).

I have read them with care. For the most part they were very positive and very encouraging. I continue to enjoy teaching and my students here a great deal. I think I have grown a lot as a teacher in recent semesters and the evaluations and comments reflect this for the most part.

With respect to the “weak areas”:

• “Helpful comments on written assignments” This has improved, but is still not as high as I would like it to be. I have studied the written comments on student papers of my colleagues “strong” in this area and believe mine to be demonstrably comparable to theirs. I have also clearly stressed that I am very happy to talk with students about their papers (and have always been rated very high in “available to help” and “concerned”). Several have done so and always seem very pleased with the results. I don’t know what else I can do in this area.

• “Explains things clearly” I rated very high in “competence in field” and “challenged students to analyze issues.” Literature is unlike either philosophy or history, much less most government courses, in that it is deliberately edgy. We are trying, every class, to break through to new insights. We are wrestling with many very difficult issues (ask any student). We are constantly proposing tentative interpretive hypotheses to further mull over. This is not to excuse sloppiness or subjectivity, but I honestly think that some students don’t understand this and so have unrealistic expectations. They are measuring what we do in class with inappropriate yardsticks.

• Consistently rating higher in “overall assessment of this instructor” than “overall assessment of this course” While the former is encouraging, the latter hurts. There may be a higher percentage of students here, given the nature of our college, who simply can’t relate to literature no matter how hard you try. I frankly don’t know what to do with this.

I have shared my doubts as to the wisdom, and even the rightness, of our “evaluation procedure.” Perhaps this summer I can write these up for faculty consideration in the fall. “A rebuke sinks deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into the back of a fool” (Proverbs 17:10). I make no claims to be a man of understanding, but I know how deep some of these negative comments have sunk into my mind and heart. I want to be where God wants me, where my gifts can best build His kingdom. If that is here, fine. If that is somewhere else, fine. I received two unsolicited and very attractive job offers this year. I am not unwilling to leave if I can better serve somewhere else. I have written (and attached) an essay called “The Shape of ‘Shaping the Culture’ in Literary Studies Today.” This is a kind of manifesto and public answer to my (anonymous) critics: why I do what I do in the classroom. I have shared this with my students and invited their response. Many have expressed appreciation. No one has (to my face) challenged it. Please let me know what you think if you have any concerns.

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