Friday, April 13, 2007

If You Wanna Get with Me, Better Make it Fast, Now Don't Go Wasting my Precious Time

All this talk over the past few days about the teaching treadmill has reminded me of one of the big mistakes I made last year. Let’s go back to the second week of November, when the year’s first issue of the JFP came out. I was terrified about the job market in all the usual ways, but I was also terrified about the fact that my work is pretty obscure. I didn’t think there were going to be any jobs I could apply for. So when I got my hands on a copy of the JFP, I panicked. I read through the 10-point font as fast as I could, and went ape-shit putting blue circles next to every single job I was even a remotely plausible fit for. Obviously, that meant I applied to jobs that were a stretch for my AOSs and AOCs, but that wasn’t the mistake.

No, for the mistake we need to flash forward to mid-December, when I started to hear back from schools who wanted to interview me at the APA. I got one interview from a school I’d never heard of in a town I’d never heard of. Seriously. I barely remembered applying to it. Let’s call it Dim Kids In A Corn Field U. (Go Chipmunks!)

The thing is, as I started to get a better sense of what this school was like, and a better sense of the job they were offering, I realized it was a job I wouldn’t want. It would have put me on the teaching treadmill, and in a big way. Yeah, it was a tenure-track job, but it had an eight course teaching load. I mean, it’d be one thing to take a job in the middle of a corn field if you had a fair shot at moving on to bigger and better things in a few years. But an eight course teaching load? That’s all teaching and no research. And no research means no way out. You take that job, you’re stuck in the corn field for the rest of your sorry, god-damned career. And that’s not going to be me.

So. If I’m not going to take an eight course teaching job, what the fuck did I apply for? Next year I’m going to read that 10-point font a lot more closely. Too much teaching, and I won’t bother.


Anonymous said...

An opposing view, offered in casual conversation by a tenured faculty member at a top research school:

He said today that his first job, where his teaching load was 4-4, provided him FAR MORE time to research than his current job, which is ostensibly geared toward reasearch. All committee work at the 4-4 school was a joke, and there were no colloquia, and he taught essentially the same thing, quarter to quarter. Since he used all multiple choice exams, once prep for a course was done once, there was little else to do.

He always had a 3 day weekend, and summers were totally free. So it might be worthy applying even to the 4-4 schools and then sorting through things later on.

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Anon --

That's a good point about some 4-4s. Consistency from year to year of the courses you're teaching is going to be key, and if you're willing to evaluate students with nothing but multiple choice tests, that's even better.

I'm not sure about the committee work at the school that started me thinking along these lines, but they certainly had expectations about oarticipation in the university community in various ways. It sort of thought of itself as offering an intense liberal arts sort of education--with the demands that places on faculty time. And that's really what I want to steer clear of. . . .