Perhaps you’ve stumbled onto this page looking for someone named John Rakestraw. You’ve found me, but it’s quite likely that I’m not the John Rakestraw you’re seeking — there are more of us than you might think. (Or, perhaps I should say, there are more of us than I once thought.) Read on (and explore the site) to figure out if I might be the John Rakestraw you seek.

I remember a particular class in college when I looked across the room at the professor teaching the class and thought something like “I want to be you when I grow up.” I finished college, went to graduate school, and managed to realize that dream: just like that professor, I had a tenured position teaching philosophy and religious studies at Wesleyan College, a small liberal arts college for women in Georgia.

However, in the time between my time as a college student and my time as a college professor, I met and married a woman with her own career aspirations. We agreed when leaving graduate school that we would take turns in our career moves. As we neared the 10th year of my time as a college professor, she reminded me of that deal. At the end of my 10th year, I ended my time as a tenured professor and began a (thankfully) short time as an unemployed trailing spouse. Happily, I secured a non-teaching position at Vanderbilt and began on the second stage of my career, this time working in the field generally known as faculty development. I worked with professors and graduate students as they reflected on the practice of teaching, and also taught part-time.

My wife and I continued taking turns in career moves. She followed me to the DC area, where I was a director at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship at Georgetown. Then she moved us to Boston, where I worked as the founding Executive Director of Boston College’s Center for Teaching Excellence. I retired in 2019, though I unretired for an additional year of working and teaching part-time at Georgetown during the first full year of Covid.

About the site

This is pretty much a standard blog. Though I’ve begun to draft some longer, more considered pieces, for the most part it will include daily meanderings on a wide range of topics — basically, whatever occupies my mind on a particular day. Some of it will likely be rather quotidian. I suspect the tag cloud will grow as the site develops.

One aspect of the site that’s different from many is the collection of what I’m calling Commonplace entries. This picks up on a tradition of people maintaining Commonplace books. My version — though this might also evolve a bit — includes quoted passages from books that I’m reading that I find particularly interesting or provocative. I can’t promise that they’ll all make sense out of their context, but I provide citation information for anyone intrigued enough to learn more about a particular entry. You have probably already noticed that the commonplace entries are included in the regular stream on the main page and they’re also collected in their own stream.