What if doing what you love, and what you are truly good at, is something that is undervalued, something not respected. A career-limiting proposition. Underpaid, and likely to remain so.
Right now, that’s what I’m thinking. About me. About my career. About teaching.
I keep circling back to the #1 thing, which is that I love it. I think I am truly good at it. Then there are the days when nothing seems to come together. Then there are the moments when it all comes together.
It’s not about me and my brilliant lecture, or my carefully written assignments. It is all about them and what they learned and what they are taking away from this time we’ve spent together, from the time they’ve spent alone, learning.
I can live with being underpaid, but I’d rather not be. I have a hard time with the not respected. I think I should do something about that. Command respect. Sometimes I need to command a little more respect, and I don’t know how. My voice feels silenced.
I get that I work in a research university, and that research is king. But it is a research university. Isn’t teaching the mission of a university? Aren’t the students the reason to have the university?
And yes, I, too, find those pesky students mighty inconvenient from time-to-time, when I have to get other work done. When someone that I don’t even know is knocking on my office door asking me for help with a homework problem that I didn’t assign.
If I had my choice between working with a student and other work, I’d rather work with the student. There is nothing on this earth like the feeling of seeing someone get it.
There has to be a balance between the two missions. Research and teaching. A balance where both are valued and both are respected.
I feel like we are way out of balance. Respect for the teaching mission, at least where I’ve been lately, seems hard to come by.
I am going to hold my head high, and I am going to do the what I can to be respectable and respectful. I will not always be quick enough with my words to rebuff all of the disrespect that come my way. Others will look down on me, nothing I can do about that.
I’m lucky enough to work at a liberal arts institution where teaching is highly prized. Now, if only I and my colleagues could convince the general administration overseeing our state university system that we do here is worthwhile, let alone the governor and legislature…
…keep fighting the good fight, JM!