Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 26: Contingent Professor, Economic Injustice, Classic Saint Marty

Sunday.  12:56 p.m.  85 degrees outside.  Cranky daughter just got out of bed.

I have some work to do today for the online class I'm teaching.  It starts tomorrow, and I think I'm pretty much ready.  I just have some small details to finish up.  A quiz to post.  Lecture notes to work on for next week.  I am feeling much more confident than I was last week at this time.

Which gets me thinking about being a contingent professor at the university.  For the work that I have done/am doing for this class, a full-time professor would be getting paid about four times as much as I am being paid.  I have a terminal degree. I have been teaching at the university longer than most of the full-time, tenure-track/tenured professors in my department.  And the full-timers rule the roost.

Sorry if I'm sounding a little like Bernie Sanders, but it is true that there is a great deal of injustice in the world.  In the academic world, too.

Two years ago, I was saying the same thing:

June 27, 2014:  Going Home, Elitist Intellectuals, Once Upon a Toad

"Charlotte," said Wilbur.  "We're all going home today.  The Fair is almost over.  Won't it be wonderful to be back home in the barn cellar again with the sheep and the geese?  Aren't you anxious to get home?"

E. B. White loved the life he led as a child.  He loved the summers he spent in a cabin on a lake with his family.  He loved the horses his father owned.  Later, he loved his life in farm country.  The barns.  Cows.  Chickens.  The spiders and geese.  In fact, White made a career for himself writing about everything he cherished from his youth.  He was constantly going home.

I have been an adjunct instructor at a university for going on 20 years.  That's a long time.  I've seen professors come and go.  Retire.  Die.  I've taught through the administrations of about five or six English Department Heads and six University Presidents.  I have never been offered more than a one-semester contract.  At the end of each semester, I'm not sure if I'll be teaching one class, two classes, or no classes the next term.  It's a tenuous existence at best.

One of the reasons I've never been offered something more permanent is because of a bias that exists in academia.  The English Department is full of professors who think they're better teachers and scholars because they've studied in such exotic locations as Indiana or Texas or Canada.  They went on a Holy Grail quest for a tenured position at a university and lucked out.  They've made sacrifices for their careers.

These elitist intellectuals are of the opinion that their sacrifices have somehow made them worthier of their privileged lives than others.  They look down on the likes of me, who elected to stay put, raise a family, and pursue an academic career closer to home.  I've sat through department meetings where contingents and adjuncts were treated like inferior children by tenured colleagues.

I think it does take a lot of courage to leave home and pursue a career wherever the academic winds blow.  I admire my colleagues.  They're smart, talented people.  However, I also think it takes a lot of courage to stay home, get married, have children, and roll the academic dice.  In fact, it may take more courage because there are more obstacles in the way of success, not the least of which are the opinions of elitist intellectuals.

Sorry for the rant, folks.  It's something about which I've been thinking quite a bit this summer.  I had to get it off my chest.

Once upon a time, a toad lived in a swamp in the middle of the woods.  The swamp was his home.  The toad was born there, grew up there.  He spent his days sitting on the same rotten log where his father sat his whole life (until a rather cranky snake came along and ate his father).

One day, a lizard from the other side of the forest moved into the swamp.  The lizard said to the toad, "Don't you ever get bored of sitting on this log, eating the same kinds of bugs, day after day?"

The toad just blinked at the lizard.

The lizard cleared his throat.  "I think life is too short to fritter away.  A life without change and adventure isn't a real life.  It's a wasted life."

The toad just blinked at the lizard

The lizard licked his eyes.  "Are you hearing what I'm saying?  You don't deserve this log or this swamp.  You can't appreciate it the way I can."

The toad just blinked at the lizard.

"I deserve this swamp more than you," the lizard said, "because I've been to other places.  I'm worldly and smart."

The toad just blinked at the lizard.

"And, furthermore--" the lizard continued.

Just then, the cranky snake came by and swallowed the lizard.

The toad just blinked.

Moral of the story:  don't fuck with a cranky snake.

And Saint Marty lived happily ever after.

Something like this...

1 comment:

  1. Remember, even Jesus was underappreciated in his hometown.