Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Adjunct positions are where philosophers go to die.

That Maclean's article that PGS wrote about a few days ago deserves more comment. The article made it look like the worst thing about adjunct positions is the crappy salary and the meager benefits. These things suck, to be sure. But they're not the worst thing about adjuncting.

The worst thing is that adjunct positions are a trap. When you're an adjunct you usually spend so much time teaching so many of the labor-intensive classes that no one else in the department wants to teach that you have no time to go to conferences or to publish anything. Thus you have no way to improve your CV. Thus no way to get yourself a tenure-track job. Thus the only way to make any money is to keep teaching too many classes. Thus you have no time to go to conferences or to publish anything. Thus ... . It's called the 'teaching treadmill,' and it's exploitative and awful. And once people get on this track, it can be impossible to get off.

The thing is, a lot of people coming out of non-top-10 departments really have no choice but to take an adjunct position for a few years after they finish the PhD. And a lot of these people manage to make the move into a tenure-track job at another school. But it takes a lot of work. You have to publish. A lot. The Maclean's article makes it sound as if all you have to do is be a really good teacher. That, my friends, is utterly, hopelessly misguided.


Anonymous said...

(the husband of the previous poster says)
Come on guys, you should sell out. I'm sure that there's a drug company or some part of the military-industrial complex that could use a philosopher to convince them and the world that everything they're doing is the right thing. Why don't you e-mail Michael Moore, ask him who's the most morally reprehensible person/organization in the country is and offer them your services.

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Hey Anon(the first),

There are some post-docs in philosophy, but not as many as in, say, the sciences. Some are good, some are just one-years with fancy names. I'm going to see if PGOAT's willing to tell an intesting story about post-docs. . . .