I stayed away from a children's literature reading group today where this wonderful book was to be discussed, because I was hoping to finish a chapter I had so fruitfully worked on during the weekend. Instead, I received a reminder to turn in my homework for a workshop on professional development next Monday.
In my last year in Stockholm, we were all ordered to take a professional development course for PhD supervisors. I didn't know it was my last year in Stockholm, so I had to attend, and then I never finished it and remained undeveloped. (I hope my PhD students haven't noticed).
Now I have been told that I need to take a professional development course in professional development. Every now and then I have to conduct a professional development review with people in my research group, and every now and then I have to be developed by someone else. Anyone in academia will recognise the process. Actually, I think it is quite useful if done properly, but mostly it is just another of those pointless academic routines that take a lot of time and energy and don't lead anywhere. At the last Faculty Board, a brave colleague mentioned that he had been developed twice during his long professonal career and hadn't been better or worse for it, so was it really necessary?
But now it's not just be being developed or me developing someone else, it's me developing my skills of developing others. They promised the homework would take no more than an hour. Maybe you can do it in an hour, but I found myself getting quite absorbed in it, trying to evaluate myself. It took at least three hours of my precious time when I could have been professionally developing (that is, writing my book). Yet I couldn't help it. Am I a good manager? What makes me think I am a good manager? What are my strong sides? What do I need to - well, develop? One of the questions I had to consider was: What do you do if your reviewee bursts into tears? Good question, it has happened to me. Have a tissue ready.
If you take this seriously, I have no training in leadership or management or whatever, and I probably really need to develop my skills. I used to attend workshops on web-based teaching and always learned something useful. So perhaps I will develop on Monday. Unless I am hopessly beyond developmentability.