I've been away from blogging for the past month, as I've been focused on getting two research grants submitted by a March 1 deadline. Yes, that's today, and they're both done.
I've been neglecting not only this blog, but also the students in my classes, as a consequence of caring more about my research than about my teaching. I originally wrote 'as much about my research', but that's not true - I do care more about research than teaching. But I'd like to think that caring about research makes for a good teacher, maybe better than someone who cares only about teaching.
Being taught by scholars (researchers in the science or humanities or whatever) is one of the supposed benefits of studying at a real university rather than at a college where the faculty have little or no time or facilities for scholarly work. The benefit is (should be) that the teachers are people who DO research. We care deeply about intellectual work, about scholarship, and we can communicate about the process from our ongoing experience. Active research also keeps us at the frontiers of knowledge, and gives us the perspective to make value judgments about what's in the textbooks.
The down side of this is that we're unlikely to be as dedicated to teaching as our non-researcher colleagues (at UBC, 'sessional lecturers' and 'instructors'). I, for example, have been skimping on my teaching responsibilities for the past couple of weeks, to get my grant proposals done.
But this isn't because we don't care about learning. I, and every researcher I know, care much more deeply about learning than the great majority of our students do. We LOVE learning - it's our favourite thing in the whole world. But we love learning as a concrete activity, experienced most rewardingly in the research we do, not as an abstraction. So it shouldn't be surprising that we value our own learning activities (our research) more than the learning activities of our students.