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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Adjunct World

One of the most moving and graphic tales of adjunct life appeared in today's Inside Higher Ed. By graphic I mean a mixture of descriptions of impossible teaching loads, terrible hours, unpayable debt, non-healthcare, and summer unemployment pay. But in the midst of it he says this:
Some have asked why I continued to teach as a part-timer if things were so tough, and to be honest, every spring I begin asking myself that same question. In fact, I have left teaching twice. The first time I was offered a position as a business manager for a corporation that owns travel stops throughout the Southwest. The money was good, the hours were close to what I would put in as a part-time instructor (counting prep time and time grading papers), and I had benefits.

I hated it.

There is something about teaching that keeps pulling me in. I love writing, and I love sharing my passion for it with my students. I love feeling that I might be making a positive difference in people’s lives. I love feeling like I’m contributing something to my community.

The first time I left teaching, I stayed away for one year. The second time, I resisted the call for two years. Twelve years ago I moved to the Seattle area, landed teaching jobs at three different schools, and have been performing the juggling act of a freeway flyer ever since.
Then there's a semi-happy ending - for him.

The temping of a whole higher ed teaching profession is a crazy, thoughtless, destructive thing whose passage means we are sleepwalking about money and all means for all the Jacks who teach and teach and teach and don't write these articles.

The whole point of the humanities for me is to rescue our obscure selves from oblivion, which is where temping puts all the brilliant Jacks. So how screwed up is it that we teach the humanities with adjuncts? They teach, get back in their car, drive away, disappear.

This trend has to end.

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