Once a Professor: A Memoir of Teaching in Turbulent Times

Wisconsin Historical Society
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Farm boy professor shares a life of lessons.

“I never wanted to be a professor,” writes Jerry Apps in the introduction to Once a Professor. Yet a series of unexpected events and unplanned experiences put him on an unlikely path—and led to a thirty-eight-year career at the University of Wisconsin.

In this continuation of the Apps life story begun in his childhood memoir Limping through Life, Wisconsin’s celebrated rural storyteller shares stories from his years at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1957 to 1995, when he left the university to lecture and write fulltime. During those years Apps experienced the turmoil of protests and riots at the UW in the 1960s, the struggles of the tenure process and faculty governance, and the ever-present pressure to secure funding for academic research and programs.

Through it all, the award-winning writer honed a personal philosophy of education—one that values critical thinking, nontraditional teaching approaches, and hands-on experiences outside of the classroom. Colorful characters, personal photos, and journal entries from the era enrich this account of an unexpected campus career.
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About the author

Jerry Apps has a PhD degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education. He worked for the University of Wisconsin for thirty-eight years in varying roles, from county extension agent to tenured professor. He is a past director of the National Center for Extension Leadership Development. In addition to his many books on rural history, he has written eleven books on continuing and higher education. Jerry and his wife, Ruth, split their time between their home in Madison and their farm in central Wisconsin.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Wisconsin Historical Society
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Published on
Apr 4, 2018
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Pages
217
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ISBN
9780870208584
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Educators
Biography & Autobiography / General
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Education / Philosophy, Theory & Social Aspects
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In 1966, a young Ph.D. fresh from Harvard came down to New Haven to take up a teaching position in the Yale English department, then widely viewed as the best in the world. In Another Life focuses in lucid retrospect on that time, place, and career, and on that moment within it which would define his destiny. Would he succeed, through native wit, hard work, intense ambition, and sheer good luck, in rising through the ranks, pleasing senior colleagues, weathering the shifting winds of critical doctrine and storms of institutional politics, to achieve that most glittering, coveted, and rarely conferred of prizes: tenure at Yale? A campus novel, full of eccentric characters and bizarre twists and turns? Well, like his quest for tenure, its a case of yes and no. For all this actually happened. Yet its more than a personal memoir. In Another Life reflectsand reflects onthe so-called crisis in English at a time when new doctrinesstructuralism, deconstruction, theorywere bending literary studies into unaccustomed postures, particularly at Yale. But it also reflects the powerful forces at work on higher education from the wider world outside: the political and economic pressures that were transforming an older elitist culture, with literature and the humanities at its core, into the more egalitarian societyeconomistic, technological, and bureaucraticthat we all now inhabit. The author, a self-proclaimed meritocrat, finds himself deeply at odds with both worlds, and without succour or support from either as he staggers between them. But what a good read it is for those prepared to entertain the issues it raises! Trenchantly observed and written, this is the story of one mans effort to work out his separate peace with an institution he finds increasingly alienating and absurd. Its style alone will make any but the most politically correct of readers smile through her tears!
"I'm embarrassed to say I thought I knew anything substantial about Wisconsin agriculture or its history before I read this book. 'Wisconsin Agriculture' should be required reading in history classes from high school to the collegiate level. It makes me thankful that Jerry Apps has such a sense of commitment to Wisconsin's agricultural heritage--and to getting the story right." --Pam Jahnke, Farm Director, Wisconsin Farm Report Radio

Wisconsin has been a farming state from its very beginnings. And though it's long been known as "the Dairy State," it produces much more than cows, milk, and cheese. In fact, Wisconsin is one of the most diverse agricultural states in the nation.

The story of farming in Wisconsin is rich and diverse as well, and the threads of that story are related and intertwined. In this long-awaited volume, celebrated rural historian Jerry Apps examines everything from the fundamental influences of landscape and weather to complex matters of ethnic and pioneer settlement patterns, changing technology, agricultural research and education, and government regulations and policies. Along with expected topics, such as the cranberry industry and artisan cheesemaking, "Wisconsin Agriculture" delves into beef cattle and dairy goats, fur farming and Christmas trees, maple syrup and honey, and other specialty crops, including ginseng, hemp, cherries, sugar beets, mint, sphagnum moss, flax, and hops. Apps also explores new and rediscovered farming endeavors, from aquaculture to urban farming to beekeeping, and discusses recent political developments, such as the 2014 Farm Bill and its ramifications. And he looks to the future of farming, contemplating questions of ethical growing practices, food safety, sustainability, and the potential effects of climate change.

Featuring first-person accounts from the settlement era to today, along with more than 200 captivating photographs, "Wisconsin Agriculture" breathes life into the facts and figures of 150 years of farming history and provides compelling insights into the state's agricultural past, present, and future.

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Now a public television documentary, Freedom Writers: Stories from the Heart
 
In 1994, an idealistic first-year teacher in Long Beach, California, named Erin Gruwell confronted a room of “unteachable, at-risk” students. She had intercepted a note with an ugly racial caricature and angrily declared that this was precisely the sort of thing that led to the Holocaust. She was met by uncomprehending looks—none of her students had heard of one of the defining moments of the twentieth century. So she rebooted her entire curriculum, using treasured books such as Anne Frank’s diary as her guide to combat intolerance and misunderstanding. Her students began recording their thoughts and feelings in their own diaries, eventually dubbing themselves the “Freedom Writers.”
 
Consisting of powerful entries from the students’ diaries and narrative text by Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary is an unforgettable story of how hard work, courage, and determination changed the lives of a teacher and her students. In the two decades since its original publication, the book has sold more than one million copies and inspired a major motion picture Freedom Writers. And now, with this twentieth-anniversary edition, readers are brought up to date on the lives of the Freedom Writers, as they blend indispensable takes on social issues with uplifting stories of attending college—and watch their own children follow in their footsteps. The Freedom Writers Diary remains a vital read for anyone who believes in second chances.
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