Ah, the first post on a brand new blog. The writer usually is all excited and has grand plans, and the reader wonders how long it will be until this blog, too, becomes inactive. Maybe I should take bets:-)?

Why am I writing this blog? Well, I finally lost my job in academia without another one in the pipeline, and that was the kick in the… I mean: the impetus! I needed to get my act together and look at how I can continue doing what I want to do – teach, write, and do the stuff needed to continue improving as a teacher and writer – outside trad-ac. I say ‘trad-ac’ because by now what we usually call ‘academia’ is far from the only place where people can find or offer higher education.

I’ve been in alt-ac since 2020, in parallel with jobs (fixed-term jobs, always fixed-term!) in trad-ac. Having taught at universities (trad-ac) in three countries for over 15 years and having taught online (alt-ac) for three, I have increasingly fallen in love with the latter. Yes, trad-ac still is about learning; but more and more, it is about getting a degree. And when I need to treat all my students the same so that the grade they get from me at the end of the semester can be compared to that of others, I cannot treat them in whatever way may be best for them individually. Too often, the rules at big institutions are there to make those institutions litigation-proof; and in the last few years, I was all too frequently informed that my way of making classes (and final grades) less stressful were ‘against the rules’. Not so in my alt-ac classes, whose primary goal is to help my students get better (get good!) at whatever they have set out to learn.

And there are so many different ways of getting better at something. I offer a breadth of resources to everyone, for each to pick and choose what works best for them. But what kind and what amount of exercises I suggest they do, what kinds of tests or exams I make available for them, how I suggest they take them, what speed I suggest for them: all that I can tweak and adapt so much better when the goal is getting somewhere, rather than getting there in a way that can be compared with how others got there.

And when I work as a teacher in alt-ac, I am there as a teacher. I am not there as someone who needs to publish as much as possible and has to add some teaching on the side because it says so in their contract. I can be there and do for my students whatever works best for them, rather than what an entrenched system requires of me. Don’t get me wrong: I am most definitely not saying that there is no good teaching at regular universities. That couldn’t be further from the truth. But whether you are a good, inspiring, helpful teacher or someone who is physically present in the classroom and mostly confuses people increasingly is without professional consequences for you. I’m curious to see where alt-ac is going. yogicstudies.com, for which I do most of my teaching, is constantly growing. That’s not just because its founder Seth Powell knows what he’s doing, but also because people simply want to learn about things that have meaning, and they want to learn from teachers who know what they’re doing and enjoy teaching them. So let’s offer just that.