Tuesday 4 August 2009

A vision of Hell

Brimstone and fire are nothing.
There are times, in the adjunct “career” when one may be compelled to teach in unnatural teaching situations. Because department schedules are often not set until the week before the semester starts, it is difficult, if not an outright gamble, to arrange the perfect teaching schedule — “perfect” stretching into a very wide semantic spectrum.

I had the (un)fortunate experience to receive offers, one Winter semester, from all four colleges to which I had applied. Not having any steady work, I told myself to “make hay while the day was good” or some such from the Grandfather/advice voice in my head, and I accepted all 10 sections. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

It should go without saying that before you accept a class section, you have done the math and figured out if you are able to meet the minimal time requirements (prep, in class, grading) to successfully teach it. I did not perform this task. I jumped right in, thinking that the extra money would really be nifty, especially with the relatively lax summer class schedule to follow. Perhaps I could go crazy and purchase some health insurance for my spouse and daughter. I could go all out.

There is a definite point when you realize that you have seriously over-committed yourself. ...
Ten classes across four universities. I really don't understand folks willing to stay on the adjunct track like this. There are good jobs outside of academia. The odds of moving from adjunct to tenure-track are low. If this had been my best option coming out of grad school, well, going back to the family farm would have looked mighty appealing.

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