Friday, January 20, 2006
Every semester, I get multiple exasperated calls from faculty, asking where the lecterns have gone. They seem to think that I keep a secret stash in my office. (It’s probably in the secret vault they think I have, where I apparently keep all the secret money for my secret nefarious projects. That’s also where I store my secret plans for world domination. But I digress.)
Is there a black market in lecterns? Do people fence them for drugs? Can you get high by inhaling the smoke from a burning lectern? Are there gray-market stores in Nearby Big City offering lecterns that fell off the backs of trucks? Do students take lecterns home to make art out of them? I’m perplexed.
This happens every semester.
I’m thinking of springing for lojack for the lecterns. I want to know where they’re going, and some sort of electronic tracing device seems the best way. Your tax dollars at work!
These aren’t even especially attractive lecterns. They’re basically beige or black sheet metal, some foldable but most not. They rest on the tables in the front of classrooms. We’re not talking about mahogany here.
Maybe lecterns go to chop shops, where they’re disassembled and resold as, uh, new lecterns? Maybe lecterns that have been through too many classes commit suicide, walking to a nearby hill and jumping off (though, strangely, we’ve never found their carcasses)? Maybe gang members make off with them and use them as weapons; that would account for all of those lectern-related fatalities you hear so much about.
Does this happen anywhere else? Has anyone solved the mystery of the vanishing lecterns?
People who might lust after lecterns in the Levenger catalogue, but who can't afford them, find the desk-top models irresistable and portable?
At my U., the lecturns are built in to our front desks and fold down into them when not in use. Hard to make off with a 300 pound arborite desk.
Maybe your school should purchase more cumbersome models.
I've been wondering where the plans for world domination were hidden. Did you find my lost set, by chance?
I always put them down under whatever table contraption is at the front of the room; you might check down there.
Dr. Crazy, please please, feel free to take them out from my classes. But leave the rolling dictionary stand and dictionary!!
Now, where are all the white board pens and chalk erasers?
(Oops. My secret is out. I'm stealing them and burning them in a ritual attended by other crazed lectern haters. We dance and sing around the bonfire.)
I don't recall any problem with the old lecterns vanishing at Northern Illinois. But like Doc, I don't use them much. Maybe for dramatizing a reading from Wealth of Nations or Alfred Marshall or something similarly weighty. I'd rather wander around the classroom and have give-and-take, or maybe let the back row know that the crossword puzzle is for later.
I walked in yesterday morning to find that the lectern had disappeared--which pissed me off, but whatever. But by the afternoon, it had returned!
I suspect it was just out getting a coffee, or had a hot brunch date.
I've always wondered who uses them. Especially in the math classrooms.
King Kong always needs juice.
I hate the damn things. The first thing I do is move them off the desk.
I'm much more interested in who's stealing the whiteboard markers.
My kingdom for a lectern!
Here is what you do. To the top of each lecturn for each given room, stencil in spraypaint the room number and building it is assigned to.
this way, when you actually discover the lecturn death grounds... you will be able to publish a scholarly paper on the directions of their migrations.
Seriously, though, lecturns reinforce poor teaching habits - separating the instructor from the students, gluing him/her to lecture notes, etc.
Like several other commentators I move them aside, and then trip over them.
Out damned lecturn!
I would like to know where to buy a cheap portable lectern
Years from now, archeologists are going to unearth bodies with strange shin indentations--and it will be us--the American Professor, ca 2006.
Overhead projectors, A/V carts, file cabinets, busted old desk lamps, desktop inkjet printers, and other vintage classroom and office material. I realized he was doing an inventory, and these items appeared the next day on the loading dock, broadly labeled "PROPERTY DISPOSITION".
Here at GMU/AA, we have an amazing Property Disposition system. I can go there right now (I was just there yesterday, so I know this) and buy any of: an ultracentrifuge; a 1GHz flatscreen iMac; a seven-foot-tall black and white enlarger; the back seat from a minivan; an aquarium for raising mice; any of an alluring assortment of desk chairs, some with all wheels; a gurney; a salad bar (may need refrigeration repair); a 1965-vintage ten-pound "laser" pointer, with light bulb, wall plug and prominent "HOT" label.
And that's just now. Somme weeks back, my wife and I bought ten (10) rolling library re-shelving carts. You know. Ummm... for home use.
So. I suspect you are infested with a Possible Staff member there, and that the valuable but "old fashioned" or perhaps "worn out" lecterns are being deaccessioned and sent to the backchannel: your equivalent of Property Disposition.