Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Bit of Free Advice (Vice, Vice)

Here's Sisyphus on sitting in a placement meeting, trying to understand what a teaching philosophy is:
The teaching philosophy is one of the places (oh, I could make a list of the places, honey) where my department falls down on the job in prepping us for the market. We are given no models, no examples, no list of what to do and not to do in the teaching philosophy. Last year whenever I mentioned I needed to write one and was having trouble, the job market advisor, my advisor, all the profs I talked to, just cocked their heads in that Aroo?-confused-dog look and then changed the subject. In one of the meetings I piped up to tack on “and sometimes a teaching philosophy” to a list of required materials and the job market advisor paused for a sec, then said, “Oh yeah, some places will want that sort of stuff."

This was exactly my experience last year. The Old World Septuagenarian, and, really, the rest of the senior faculty, had no fucking idea what a teaching philosophy was. They'd never written one. In fact, Evil Columbo made it clear they never even read them when candidates for jobs in my department send them.

It was one thing for the senior profs to be stone fucking ignorant about stuff they were supposed to help us out with. But what made me grind a half-millimeter off my molars was their blithe indifference to not being able to help. They just didn't want bother themselves with details about teaching portfolios. They'd never cared about that shit before, and our job market problems weren't going to make them start now.

Anyway, a few junior profs saved our asses and gave us (what seemed like) some great advice. Get the nickel version of it here.

Update: Sisyphus suggests we go take a look at the advice she got in comments. It's a very good suggestion, since she got some very good advice. So go read. I'm on board with concrete examples to backstop vague pedagogical abstractions.


Sisyphus said...


I don't know if a teaching statement for literature would be the same as a teaching statement for philosophy, but I got _tons_ of helpful comments in response to that post, so people should check it out.


Kenny said...

This is probably the one part of the application I've heard the least about, both from my own department and from people giving advice on blogs or at conferences. I just started working on it yesterday.