Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Bitch in/of/on Contingent Faculty: A Rant in Two Parts, No Harmony

From the Chronicle of Higher Education comes a discussion of intellectual property rights in the form of the course syllabus "When a Syllabus is Not Your Own" by Jennifer Sinor. It was this passage that got me really worked up:

To decide that a syllabus is not a made thing, not worthy of protection without regard to market value or aesthetic value, erodes the terrain of the classroom, a terrain with a history of siege. I remember in graduate school being mocked by other doctoral students for caring about the classroom. Most tried to "get out" of teaching through grants and fellowships. The real work, I was meant to understand, lay in scholarship. In a culture where teaching is feminized, I see direct connections between the lack of protection surrounding the materials produced for the classroom and the fact that female faculty members tend to have higher teaching loads than their male counterparts, devote more hours to teaching, spend less time on research and therefore publish less, and dominate the adjunct ranks while lagging behind in the numbers of full professors. My syllabus participates in larger questions in academe about what, and who, is valued.

Amen, Sister.

The anonymity of this blog is determined by my contingent status. No tenure and a contract which stipulates COE--Contingent on Enrollment, which at this time of the year has me checking my course enrollments almost hourly (got that kid going off to College this year). And I am, somewhat privileged, 18 years in and with a Ph.D. and I get just over $62,000 for a nine month COE contract in a right-to-work state. For a semester load of 5 courses and 35 hours a week expected duty time--which must be accounted for on a submitted daily schedule form. Still, its much better than say The World's Most Beautiful Sociology Prof who with a Master's and 13 years in is a victim of "compression" and pulls down maybe $43,000. Adjunct faculty (and my, much needed, overloads) are paid at mid $1800 a course.

And, I really did want to teach--all through grad school that was my goal. Add to that the issue of looking into the eyes of a 3 year old and swallowing the knowledge that Mom hasn't time to suck those cheeks because its publish or perish. Couldn't do it. But the cost hasn't just been financial--it is that complete lack of respect. I call it the taint of the Community College. But scroll down to the beginning of this Blog and check out the posted comments by those few brave early souls. This is where the bulk of teaching of Anthropology is being done. By the poor, stressed-out and disrespected. Sinor is right, it is the final measure of disrespect when we lose the product of our own labor.

Which brings us to:

Rant: Part II

Any one noticed the ever more growing wave of anti-intellectualism? I am, also, getting hyper-sensitive to that one. We are "facilitators" not "authority figures" and this tidbit of information, also, from the Chronicle of Higher Education is IMHO an example of anti-faculty, anti-education beliefs couched in "progressive" views. The piece features a Department Chair who is complaining of the SACS requirement of Master's with 18 graduate hours in the field for teaching at the Associate's level. Seems he wants to hire retired business people without the education. So, we want to argue for the value of an education by hiring people who don't have one? *blink* And our own Belle Wheelan of SACS, seems to be agreeing (in a really slippery, slimy, Twister-playing kind of way). I get the administrator point of view, this guy is a Department Chair and he has to staff classes but I am faculty--through and through--and I ain't drinking the kool-aid. If you can't find qualified faculty, stop trying to decrease the qualifications and PAY someone something. Respect Us. Value Us.

Visual anthropologists: Notice Marx is left-leaning (from his perspective) and on the left. I have choices, you know. Just can't "picture" him center or right or right-leaning.

1 comment:

Maximilian C. Forte said...

It really is a sick system, on all fronts.

Incidentally, about publish and perish: there is a beautiful crisis of overproduction there. Too many journals, too many articles, not enough reviewers, not enough library money to pay for all the subscriptions, and not enough interested readers with vast amounts of time to search for and read every little article of possible relevance.

Ultimately, I think the two worst obstacles to change are: students, and ourselves. We are not militant. We cower. We worry. We can't imagine life outside of the system, and so we give up on even thinking thoughts that escape the bounds of the system.

It's really pretty depressing.