I will be taking a hiatus from Casting Out Nines, starting now and continuing until further notice.

First of all, it’s finals week and the workload is too heavy for me to justify posting. There’s also the issue of our impending trip to China, which is forcing a lot of the work I would normally have done in January up into the last bit of December. So for the next several weeks — possibly for the foreseeable future — my posting to this blog is having a direct, negative effect on serving my college and my students.

Secondly, and more importantly, it’s come to my attention that this blog is having a strongly negative effect on my relationships with my students and on the way that the general public is viewing my college. Earlier in the semester, one of my students approached me about one of the articles I’d posted and we chatted, I felt productively about some misconceptions that I had caused through it. But evidently it goes farther than just this one student. I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say that although I had no intention of doing so, many of my posts have caused ill will and have in fact hurt many of my students who can find themselves in the words that I wrote.

This fact is greatly distressing to me. My goal all along as a professor — indeed, the reason I became a professor in the first place — has been to connect with college-aged students and help them chart their course into a life of learning and excellence. I had hoped at its inception that CO9s could be, among other things, a place where students could complement what they get in the classroom with some behind-the-scenes thoughts from me. Unfortunately, instead what has happened is exactly the opposite of what I intended. I place no blame on anybody but myself for this effect, and I am ceasing writing on the blog immediately until it’s clear that what I write has a positive, productive effect on my students no matter who they are and no matter what level they are operating at.

I have carefully gone back at least halfway through the archives and removed some of the more offensive or overly-revealing posts from the blog. I am leaving the rest up as a searchable archive. At some point in the future I may continue posting here. But I am not certain when that will be — certainly not until I can align my blogging with my personal goals for teaching and the hopes that I have for my students.

Thanks to all for reading.


Filed under Blog announcements, Casting Out Nines

12 responses to “Announcement

  1. Natalie

    I’m sorry to hear you’re stopping your blog. I’ve really enjoyed reading it and learned some good things about student/teacher interactions that (hopefully) have helped me in my classroom interactions. Good luck with the adoption.

  2. Mike R.


    My wife and I (both educators) have enjoyed your blog. I am sorry to hear that you have decided to end it, but I understand the reasons. As a math professor, many of your comments and opinions have echoed mine, so it was comforting to hear that others outside of my institution had similar feelings. Good luck in your future endeavors. If I see you at the joint meetings in New Orleans, I will happily buy you a drink.


  3. mrc

    Let me add to what I’m sure will be a long list of comments saying that we’ll miss you. The issue you raise is a major one, and you set a good example by taking to heart and thinking about the larger effects of publishing personal thoughts and perspectives. We have to think as carefully about what we write in public as we do about what we share in the classroom. Maybe even moreso. Still, the effort to reach out and find connections and exchange ideas has at its heart good intentions. I applaud you for having the courage to take on these issues under your real name. Even if you decide to stop this blog, I hope you will at least share some more of your thought process as you consider the options. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and communicating with you this year.

  4. JimMc

    I’ll second (or third or fourth) all of the above. Good luck and hope you come back! We’ll miss ya.

  5. Secondly, and more importantly, it’s come to my attention that this blog is having a strongly negative effect on my relationships with my students and on the way that the general public is viewing my college.

    Baloney. Complete baloney. I don’t second (or third) ANYTHING from the above. Just looking at your categories, you have nearly 1,600 posts in all kinds of interesting topics. That’s a lot of work! I and your students and THE WORLD enjoy reading your posts.

    The fact that it would be brought to an end by an overly sensitive student (Hey, if you “see yourself in these posts,” then maybe it’s true!) and a spineless bureaucracy that declares–without basis whatsoever–that you’re giving a negative image to the university is BALONEY.

  6. virusdoc

    Robert: I have to agree with your reasoning. I must say that even though your critical posts have had anonymous targets, they have at times seemed personally attacking in tone, and they made you look more negative and uncaring that I know you are (or at least remember you being–when was the last time we actually had a cup of coffee together?). This is one of the main reasons I haven’t really started up yet now that I’m at Purdue. I can’t envision an intellectually satisfying personal blog that is narrow enough in scope not to offend or ruffle feathers of students or administration. So until I can envision that, I think the blog will lie dormant. When and if I do start it up, I think my rules of thumb will be 1) I don’t ever publish an article without a 24 hour waiting period after I write it, and I re-read them just before they go up; 2) I don’t write about anyone I know, unless the tone and content of the post are entirely positive.

    Perhaps this sounds (to some) like ridiculous political correctness. But in my mind it’s simply taking into account the fact that written words have an enduring power to hurt, and once they are public we have no control or knowledge of the extent of that harm.

  7. Liz

    Well, hiatus due to overwork I can understand, although I’m longing to read about the China experience (and see photos of the newest little Niner!).

    I think you’ve run into one of the downsides to blogging non-anonymously. People will eventually find your work.

    When I started my blog I made a conscious decision to blog with my real name. In 2005, someone I care about dearly was deeply offended by one of my posts. I’d written about things that weren’t mine alone.

    I think the person misread or misinterpreted my posts, but I took them down anyway, because of privacy issues.

  8. Eric


    It was a saddening to read your blog this morning. Reading (and very occasionally commenting on) your blog has been a part of my daily routine for quite some time. It will be missed.

    It is unfortunate that you had a few students who failed to recognize the gift they were being given by your honest and open evaluation of their work. Although students could identify when you were referencing them in your blogs, unless they shared their mistakes with others they enjoyed complete anonymity. I never sensed a mocking tone from you; rather, you appeared to be legitimately lamenting student mistakes, and genuinely looking for ways to help students overcome them. I hope they come to understand this at some point.

    When your students leave the college cocoon, they will be held publicly accountable for the mistakes they make in their profession. If they are offended or hurt now by what you’ve done, then they are going to be in for a whale of a shock when they enter graduate school or the workforce.

    Finally, just so people know where I’m coming from on this, I am a former student of Robert’s (I was one of his first students at the small liberal arts school he previously taught at). I have experienced his ego-wilting correction first hand (it was a highly deserved correction) and became a better person and student because of it. I have tremendous respect for Robert’s unwavering pursuit of excellence in all areas of life for both himself and his students. I hope those who had difficulties or felt hurt by some of his bloggings will realize that Robert wasn’t being vindictive, sour, or just plain crotchety; he actually cared about you.

  9. I read you regularly, but I haven’t ever consciously thought about your university. (Which one is it again?) And I haven’t thought anything but “yeah, I can see that” about your students. Of course, I didn’t understand half the things you presented and asked for, but I thought it was interesting.

    I too was looking forward to China blogging.

    If you decide to blog anonymously later on, my recommendation and what I do, please let me know where you are. I won’t post your new anonymous blog as yours.

    God bless.

  10. I miss your blogging, and I hope you will come back when you’re ready, but I understand you have to do what’s best for your and your students.

  11. A bit of a subject hijack here, but I just wanted to say: Happy New Year to you and yours. I wish you all the best for 2007.

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