Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Life as a prof

So I briefly saw Supa's non-TRS post referencing an essay on the Chronicle of Higher Ed and was curious about the subsequent conversation that followed in some email exchanges that I was not privy to. Part of my interest here is tied into my own experiences moving from a 4/4 load while writing to my dissertation to my current position teaching a 2/2. Although I'm in my first year at the new gig, I feel that I actually wrote more with the heavier course load (excpet of last year, after I finished and was on the market, and said f**k it I'm not writing--for the good or bad on that). There are many reasons why I feel this has happened but before I delve into a such a long diatrade I would be curious to know my fellow situationers perspectives on teaching, research, and even family in this respect??


Supadiscomama said...

Well, the somewhat passionate discussion centered on research vs. teaching. The consensus seemed to be that the designations of "research schools" and "teaching schools" are kind of bullshit--because you teach *and* research regardless of the school's particular "tier."

My feeling is that I'm not willing to sacrifice time with family and friends and time for non-academic fun (is there really such a thing?!?) in order to publish my way to an institution that emphasizes faculty output. Plus, the pressure on faculty at so-called research schools seems insane--and requires one to sacrifice all of the above-mentioned items.

Of course, right now I'm teaching one class and still struggling to get my shit done--so what do you say about that?

The Roof Almighty said...

From what I followed of the (still-continuing) flamewar on Facebook, the center of the disagreement had less to do with the original argument and more to do with some inflamatory, unfounded assumptions made in the original posts. IOW, not the content itself, but how it conflicts and conforms with preconceived assumptions.

From what I've seen of the current market, heirarchical "supposed to be"s are being delayed, destroyed, or redefined for the uncertain future. In the same way tenure doesn't mean the same thing for us as it did for our mentors' mentors--and in the same way that "6 years to finish your PhD" once meant "up to 10" and now means "we all prefer 5"--now is a bad time to presume anything. Up to, and including, the motivation and values of others.

megsg-h said...

One thing the discussion really crystallized for me is the idea that research and writing are not the same things, whether they are considered the same on the job market or not. I'm "researching" every day--reading, thinking, discussing, etc., and I should point out, all things that I do for both teaching and writing--even if I don't write.

What's potentially troubling is that schools--and, apparently, some grad students--don't see it that way.

paperweight said...

These are some interesting points that are raised here and else where. Many of these issues are something that I have been struggling with as you will see in my apparent ramblings to follow.

Of the job offers I received last year (by the way I feeling for all of you this year as I have witnessed the destruction of the job market, just try to hang in there), the two jobs that were most interesting to me, as some of you know, were the current research institution I'm at now and a wonderful liberal arts teaching school (in the end the ability to pay the bills won out more than anything). While comparing the apples and oranges of these two programs, one thing struck me that is still resonating in my head: in my field what is the difference between compiling the ridiculous amounts of data needed to create a class to that of a preparing articles/dissertations/books? Logically, the dissemination of that material is different, but as someone that has had a 2/2 and 4/4 loads there are some other issues to consider.

Everyone will have the standard stock courses that are repeated (and updated from time to time), but if you are going to be a good teacher you have to do as much research for those courses as you do a manuscript. So effectively with respect to work, what is the difference between a 2/2 and a 4/4?

Sadly the institutions have instilled differences, as we are constantly under the pressures of publish or parish despite the complete stupidity of such a culture--how much BS needs to be published for the sake of jobs? Nonetheless, pressure is pressure at any level. But there are some important components that go into "research" elements because of the courses we teach, particularly graduate as these folks are just a fountain of knowledge who basically feed you the next manuscript project--likewise teaching a said course basically helps you develop the bibliography needed for the manuscript. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that workload wise, for me there is no difference between the structures.

As this is getting ridiculously long, I'm going to stop as I must do some prep while watching tv for tomorrow but I would like to return later to address Supa's comments on family as this is something I'm struggling with right now.