Et encore, encore

So I am still mystified. It seems the main thing people did not learn how to do in graduate school was to write, and that they suffer while writing.What I did not learn in graduate school was how to teach K-12, and I suffer while teaching.

There are people who do not suffer while teaching. Some of these actually did teach K-12 before doing the PhD, so they know what they are doing. Others do not teach freshmen. I was a TA in three disciplines at a university where college was almost like graduate school and graduate school, like an assistant professorship, nearly, so I am just off.

It will be said that we just do not know how to manage conflict or multiple demands but – I am teaching five classes and I have a fairly large administrative role in addition to regular service and research, so I do not think it is a question of my poor management skills but of overwork.

As far as conflict goes, if there is sketchy or negative administrative support, there is little any individual can do except stay outside the line of fire. Everything is made more difficult by the fact of the instructors being in bed with some administrators and waging joint war on the professors from that perch. This is once again something no amount of skillz can resolve.

These are the reasons all the tenured faculty still wander about like new assistant professors, trying to learn how to get our lives together in this fearsome new world. I go to academic advice sites and shake them for words of wisdom; what I come up with, though, is that the wise advice is given by people with workloads I recognize, and corresponds to those workloads; it does not even imagine the kind of obstruction we deal with daily.


It is the weekend, another gorgeous fall day, and there are a lot of wonderful things to do; I would also like to do housework. But I am grading and doing administrative work and that is enough for the whole weekend. I will try to go to the gym, no, I will do it; and I will do it before picking up my community agriculture box.

I would like to study the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky for my other class and at a different kind of job this would be a sine qua non. The reality here, though, is that the “corner I can cut” on teaching is precisely this one: some students will have understood so little that I already know enough to talk off the cuff; others will have done so much work on their own that they do not need me to do it.

I should study Jodorowsky anyway, because in what I claim is the real world this kind of teaching activity is one that supports research activity. I should go out tonight, just for a first set, because to be so inundated with low level tasks kills imagination and is bad for research.


For me the hardest thing about this job is negotiating with the instructors and mentoring the new assistant professors, of whom we always have a new crop since the majority either do not make tenure or make quick tracks. I have been told, and also feel it is my responsibility to protect and also to help orient them, since it is such a mysterious place to work.

But I have been through so very many assistant professor horror stories, my own and then many others’, that at this point I am running below empty – I do not have it in me to go through the process one more time.


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