You are why I frequent Dl.
Question for Dl academics: what aspects of your profession do you like most? Which do you like least?
|December 9, 2023 1:59 PM
Beware of trolls and their seemingly innocuous questions.
|December 1, 2023 3:37 PM
sure are a lot of maga westboro trolls on this site...
|December 1, 2023 3:39 PM
I’m not a troll, R1/R2. Why are you defensive? I loved my student days and once considered teaching; I’m ancient now and wonder what I missed.
|December 1, 2023 3:50 PM
|December 1, 2023 3:51 PM
Like: The ability to (mostly) make my own schedule. Getting paid to research (via fellowships and grants). Teaching, especially teaching interesting and curious students.
Dislike: Administration. Grading. The bad writing and vacuous scholarship that the profession so often rewards. Most other academics.
|December 1, 2023 3:55 PM
|December 1, 2023 3:58 PM
You're welcome r6
|December 3, 2023 12:47 PM
it used to be a pretty good life. Lately, though, we have constant meetings. There is a meeting for every little thing. And lecturers did their job and did not cause any problem. However, now, they have feelings, they get easily hurt and we need to listen and cater to them.
|December 3, 2023 1:40 PM
My friends who are academics are the least happy with their professions of anyone I know. They work like dogs, get paid nothing, and are at the mercy of administrators and colleagues they loathe. Many academics have no social skills whatsoever so the wars over trivial issues are legion.
They all like the students though.
|December 3, 2023 1:48 PM
My favorite part is being with the students. I’m old but I still get a charge out of teaching. I actually look forward to going to class. I also used to love attending conferences, sometimes presenting, getting re-energized by meeting new people and getting exposed to new ideas. I’m also grateful for a career that has allowed me to work in a number of different countries.
What I don’t like…
> It hasn’t been stable financially. Not at all.
> Most administrators I’ve worked with have been mediocre or worse.
> Over the years the aptitude, skills, and knowledge of students has been on a generally downward spiral. The percentage of students who are real readers has dropped precipitously. Ditto, their vocabulary and ability to write. I still find my students to be lovely people, willing to engage and be engaged. But with shortened attention spans, the way I plan lessons today is radically different from how I planned lessons when I was a young teacher.
> I hate how I’m expected to take on so many unpaid tasks. When I talk to friends in other professions, this is absolutely unheard of.
|December 3, 2023 2:28 PM
I was an academic and left for a career teaching high school. I like teaching and dealing with students. I did NOT like the pressure of research and administrative politics. Like r10, I also didn't like the financial uncertainty. I was not prepared for that by my graduate program-- I went to a top program but there's just not that enough secure and stable jobs to go around.
Administrative politics are far more tolerable in a public school environment, because you are dealing with professionals who chose that path. In academia, you have a lot of people forced into that role and no one has any actual training for it.
r10, there is a crapton of unpaid work in private secondary schools. That's a big reason why I moved to public from private.
|December 3, 2023 5:08 PM
[quote] > Over the years the aptitude, skills, and knowledge of students has been on a generally downward spiral. The percentage of students who are real readers has dropped precipitously. Ditto, their vocabulary and ability to write. I still find my students to be lovely people, willing to engage and be engaged. But with shortened attention spans, the way I plan lessons today is radically different from how I planned lessons when I was a young teacher.
I’ve taught in three different countries, and have academic friends from all over the world. Every single one of us has said the same thing you’ve just written, r10. Granted, all my academic friend and acquaintances are from (different areas of) the humanities, so I don’t know if the same observations apply to the hard sciences faculties. I have no idea what the solution to this gradual “de-literacy” and increasingly limited attention span is, but I worry for our future.
As for the “I still find my students to be lovely people” bit of your post—the jury, or at least my own personal jury, is still out on that question. I’m finding my students to be increasingly entitled and rude. Until a few years ago, they were very rare. Now they’re a lot more common.
|December 3, 2023 5:40 PM
r12 I think COVID changed a lot about students' expectations and entitlement.
Before COVID, if students were absent, that was it, they were absent, and they usually left it at that. (I teach small sections and the department requires us to take attendance.)
After COVID, students suddenly believed they should be given alternative ways of making up for their absence. It's annoying. I am paid to teach the class and giving students extra work to "make up" for their lack of attendance in class just creates more work for me.
|December 5, 2023 2:31 PM
WTF is DI?
|December 5, 2023 5:23 PM
R13, same thing here. I, too, have small classes at the moment, and students post-Covid are almost demanding they be allowed to attend remotely, even if it’s a last-minute decision on their part. We’ve actually got a meeting planned for later this week to see how to deal with this new situation. You’re right, too, that when pre-Covid if students were absent, they just asked other people doing the course for their notes or a rundown. Now they’re demanding a full rundown from whoever’s teaching the courseif they’re not allowed online at the last minute.
|December 6, 2023 11:52 AM
R14, Dl (or DL) is DataLounge.
|December 6, 2023 11:54 AM
Once you get tenure you’re on Easy Street, right?
|December 6, 2023 12:25 PM
I am talking, researching, and writing about what I love most...history.
Petty Stalinist and Maoist tactics of some colleagues...and the wokeness of them. Not everything has to do with the Holy Trinity of class, race, and gender.
|December 6, 2023 1:11 PM
This should be two different threads. One asked to tenured profs, the other to "academics".
|December 6, 2023 1:22 PM
Have at it, r19
|December 6, 2023 7:14 PM
R17 yes if you are not ambitious in academia. Which is my case. Publish as little as you can get away with, stay out of department and campus politics, and enjoy the time with young people. I'm a couple years from forced retirement and the separation from young people is going to be rude. If I had my own kids it would be different.
|December 6, 2023 7:21 PM
r10 r11 Could you explain about the financial uncertainties?
|December 6, 2023 7:31 PM
I taught at a liberal arts college and announced my retirement when we went into lockdown. The thing I liked most and, as a result, miss most is the interaction with my colleagues. I had lunch several times a week with other academics from my department or from other, related fields. There is no substitute for the interplay of ideas and the collegiality..
The thing I liked least? I saw myself become a dinosaur in that I wanted to teach the way I had been taught, which across the 20 years worked less and less. Students assumed everything was negotiable (grades, attendance, deadlines) and the sense of entitlement they arrived with was truly breathtaking. They lack basic skills (the ability to read and synthesize material, how to write a simple paragraph) and have no interest in acquiring those skills. We are in for some dark days ahead, I fear.
|December 7, 2023 1:49 AM
R1 is an Endowed Chair here in DLU.
DL. Get it right, troll OP. And begin a post-colon statement with a capital letter, for fuck's sake.
|December 7, 2023 2:10 AM
Like most: blow jobs for good grades.
Like least: Jews
|December 7, 2023 2:17 AM
R23. Thanks for sharing. I also feel like a dinosaur, not only for the way I want to teach (more discussion, less powerpoint), and what I want to teach. I am 57 but I think it is over for me also. Lately, I feel I do not get that high when students discover a new text, a new author or an idea clicks. Also everything is negotiable and less than an A is an outrage for them. Oh well, end of the semester, at least.
|December 7, 2023 8:26 AM
R22 I am not R10 or R11 and I don’t know if this is what the mean, but here’s something.
|December 7, 2023 10:56 AM
|December 7, 2023 12:57 PM
Hi, R22. I’ll try to describe what I meant about the financial instability of the job.
> I’ve been an adjunct lecturer at my current institution for roughly 16 years. People ask why I don’t apply for a full-time gig. When I started there, maybe five or ten percent of the teachers in my department were full-timers. Those full-timers are now gone due to attrition, retirement, death, COVID. No new full-time positions have been created in years.
> As an adjunct, my teaching load has gone up and down and up and down over the years. (When they’ve given me fewer classes, I’ve generally managed to pick up classes at other colleges.) But the up-and-down nature of my main assignment — in addition to making my salary unpredictable — has meant I’ve been on a health insurance roller coaster. Eligible, then not eligible, then having to suffer through another waiting period before I became eligible once again. Got fed up with that so I bought my own stable coverage. Out of my own pocket.
> As an adjunct, the hourly rate I’m paid for teaching, on the face of it, seems quite high. Factor in the number of unpaid hours of work I actually do to earn that misleadingly high rate and it doesn’t seem so great.
Add to that the fact that since the pandemic, we haven’t even been paid what the university is contractually obligated to pay us*, and what we always got paid for pre-COVID, and it means my salary has continued to decrease.
*Here I’m referring to office hours, professional development activities, and so on. Though even when we were being paid for these things, it was never for all of the hours we were actually engaged in these activities.
> One more thing that adds to the financial instability is that as an adjunct you have what are essentially unpaid furloughs throughout the year (meaning, all of the holidays plus the breaks between terms). Since I’m not on an annual salary, those unpaid periods add up.
> A side note. I don’t know of friends or acquaintances in any other profession who spend their own money for supplies necessary for their jobs. I suspect many if not most teachers will tell you that buying things they need for work is a regular expense.
I recognize I’m in a situation of my own choosing and I could have gone a different route. On balance , I made decisions that have worked (somewhat) well for me. But in this post I’m just attempting to respond to your question, to make my previous post a bit clearer. I hope this helps.
|December 8, 2023 5:32 PM
|December 8, 2023 7:15 PM
I enjoy the proximity to eligible bachelors.
|December 8, 2023 7:29 PM
R29 nailed it. Taught (tenured) at a liberal arts college for 20 years. The institution where I taught has gone from roughly 30% adjuncts to in excess of 50%. And that growth is almost all due to economics. As R29 pointed out, adjuncts frequently get no benefits, and frequently don't know if their classes will "make" (i.e. meet minimum enrollment) until just before the semester or quarter begins. Adjuncting is basically a kind of indentured servitude.
What I find most disconcerting is that the departments most reliant on adjuncts are departments teaching important fundamental courses (math, English, so forth). And while adjuncts generally teach lower level intro courses, there devotion to teaching is often "quicksilver" if not completely absent. They teach because they need the income, not because of any love for the subject matter, or for teaching. Not so surprising is that the athletic areas always seem fully staffed and have no reliance on adjuncts. One of the great "accomplishments" of the athletics department where I taught was starting an on-line gaming area and had "lured a nationally known coach" to the institution to help build the program. I was soooo happy to be retiring.
|December 9, 2023 2:07 AM
R32. Taught undergrads (and occasional grad class) for forty plus years at community colleges, PhD-granting universities (when I was a grad student), state colleges, and, for most part, comprehensive college. My experience was that adjuncts work very hard and make Herculean efforts to meet with students. Their pay is shit. They and the students deserve better.
|December 9, 2023 1:59 PM