It was the first time in five years our entire family was together for Thanksgiving. We managed to gather despite the pandemic and without violating any travel restrictions. The nightmarish health and political scenes of the past year receded from our minds as we enjoyed good food and some new board games. Some American traditions still run strong in our household after ten years in Berlin, although this year we substituted stuffed butternut squash for the turkey.
As the pandemic has worn on, I’ve made my way through many home improvement projects and Netflix series. I even managed to complete my first knitted garment. But I’ve also had time to ask myself why I keep making career choices that lead to frustration and disillusionment. I’ve written up the reasons Why I’m Leaving Higher Education in a recent essay and shared some ideas for how to change academia’s prevalent business model in a related piece, Jewish Values in Higher Education, Or the Lack Thereof.
Retirement may be on the horizon, but I still enjoy working as an educator. My husband Brian has his own booming educational venture on the side, Step by Step Science, and we’ve decided to make a family business out of it. This is the best way I can think of to support teaching and learning in today’s challenging circumstances. Distance learning is here to stay and independent content creators can help fill the gaps left by schools and universities with self-guided digital resources. That’s just what Step by Step Science does with the high school math and science videos on its YouTube channel.
Google shares its revenues with creators of popular YouTube channels, and the amount we receive has steadily grown over the past ten years. All the videos are free to watch and available to anyone with an internet connection. I’m now the content editor for the new Step by Step Science blog, copy editor for the teaching materials that accompany the videos, and general business development manager. It all feels like a refreshing change from working for large institutions that devalue the human capital that is at the heart of the educational process.
So, in 2021 I’ll still be in the blogosphere and keeping my eye on the currents of Jewish life in Germany. Jewish topics were not my focus this year, but I did start a research project on the design of anti-Semitism surveys and what appear to be outdated or invalid questions that produce misleading findings. People tell me this will be a highly unpopular topic for publication, which may be why I haven’t gotten very far. My edited volume, A Place They Called Home, is still available through all major book outlets and this is the second year the City of Hamburg has offered it to former Jewish citizens who have participated in the city’s visitor program.
Wishing you a “Guten Rutsch”, happy holidays, and good health in the new year.