If you didn't snap back "Why aren't you a real student?" you aren't worth the pittance they pay you.
oooo whatladder, that seemed way harsh.I do believe, as for myself, that I would have answered "What do you mean?"I always thought of myself as a real professor when I was an adjunct. I think of the adjuncts as real professors now. Underpaid and taken advantage of, but certainly real professors. When I got hired as full timer, my title was not "Professor"----it was "Instructor." I felt like I had been demoted, as I had been an Adjunct Professor before. I remember being a bit unsure whether I should list my name as "Professor Bella" (I did, though).One time, just after I became full time, a smart ass student looked at my listing at the college. I was not on there, yet, and the office I had listed as my office was listed as being someone else's. So she sashayed up to me and said that I had LIED and I was not really a professor at the college! Not a REAL one like I was pretending. She was very proud of her proclamation. She thought she had me. I was so confused. I did not get it. Actually, I was full time, but I would not have "gotten" it even if I wasn't. In having to explain what she meant, she lost a lot of her bluster. Her fellow students started looking at her like she was an asshole. She WAS an asshole.
If there's anything I hate, it's an asshole who also acts like a little kid. One who smirks like this exemplifies the phrase, "little shit."Until I was promoted to full professor, some 13 years after having started teaching, I introduced myself on the first day of class as "Doctor Frankenstien." That I had an earned doctorate was a matter of record, and only the graduate school that had conferred the degree could take it away. I will also respond to "Mister Frankenstien." When students address me by my last name only, I tell them it's bad manners that bosses in the real world won't like. It's also nothing particularly new: Bobby Knight was brought down in 2000 when he reacted badly to a student addressing him as "Knight." I hate how American culture has coarsened in recent decades, but then I also hate how it's become so stupid.
Becoming a full professor is nice, because these quibbles end, once and for all. There are no more annoying comments such as "I want to talk to the professor, not the associate," or, "Who are you assisting?"I hated-hated-hated being an Accursed Visiting Assistant Professor. The best thing I can say about it was that I was knowledgeable and enthusiastic enough that the students never realized I wasn't one of the permanent faculty, even though the administration treated me like a serf. I showed them, though: I went out and got a tenure-track job at a better school. Hang in there!
A lot depends here on tone and context. I gather, from your pointing out that you hate the word "adjunct" and from your describing the class as "long," your student said, "Why aren't you a real professor?" with a sneering tone. "Why aren't you a real professor?" might alternatively delivered with an admiring tone, as in "Man, what are you doing here?" in Billy Joel's song, "The Piano Man." Which was it?
This reminds me of when my seventeen year old student who was pregnant with baby #2 asked me why I didn't have any kids. For some reason I engaged her in a conversation about this and she told me that I am selfish.
Anytime anyone asks me why I don't have kids, I reply, "What is this, the Bronze Age?"
The correct response to that is "Why do you have kids?"
I have always liked letting my eyes fill up with tears, my lip quiver, and bravely saying something like, "Even eight years of IVF attempts failed." It makes most butt-inskies feel terrible.
My usual response to a buttinsky question is, "Why? Do you have a problem with it?"If I get a snotty response like, "Yeah, I do," my next line is, "Get over it.""What if I don't want to?" is greeted with, "What other choice do you have?"
I tell them I used to be a man
For several years, while I was teaching, I was the only bachelor in my department. On day, during a work session in one of my classes, a young chap had the audacity to ask me why I wasn't married.I could have told him that my private life was none of his business or asked him why he considered my marital status, or lack thereof, important. Instead, I put him in his place by telling him that if his question was supposed to be a marriage proposal, I'd have to disappoint him as he wasn't my type.
It's the rare student that even knows if one is an adjunct, assistant, associate, or full professor; or what these titles mean. Many of my students assume I'm just a 'regular' professor who will be around next year. I gently tell them I'm an adjunct, and not on the tenure track.I've never had a student ask that question in a sneering tone. I can see the situation where they ask it somewhat bluntly in their ignorance. No, I'm not a real professor. That's why my office is next to the toilet and I make 25% of what the real professors do.
But students are like wolves: they can smell fear, and when they do, they mass for attack. And they are like sharks: they can smell blood in the water, and when they do, they go into a feeding frenzy.Therefore, although most students don't pay much attention to their professors' titles or how they got those titles, they do pick up on subtle cues such as appearance and body language. It's always helped that I'm a big guy, who radiates an aura of wanting to rip some sneering little shit's arm off and beat them over the head with it. I'm now getting too old for real-life Indiana Jones stuff, but ever since I became a full professor, things have gone much smoother in the classroom. Later in life, Bertrand Russell was offered drugs to make his hair less white. He said he wouldn't like that, since the grayer he got, the more willing people became to listen to him.
Why am I not a prof? Well, yesterday a student saw me leaving and in a confused state asked, "Are you leaving for the day?" "Why, yes," I replied, "it's noon and I've taught my last class for the day."
Was accosted right before class by an older student (older students and I don't get along very well due to the age gap). She asked me how old I was, adding that I didn't look very old. At the time, I was 26 and I made the mistake of telling her. Her response in a very snide tone was, "Gah! Aren't you a little young to be teaching?!"Had I had tenure at the time, I would have replied with, "Aren't you a little old to be getting your AA?"I suppose in her world, "real professors" don't start teaching until they retire.
from Adjunct AmyI'm an adjunct instructor because the market sucks. I got my PhD at a lousy time, or so I'm told, and I love to teach. So I take the shitty pay and the poor conditions, and I teach the best I can.I've learned more from my adjuncting than I ever learned in school.I've worked as a sandwich maker, sex worker, door to door salesman, maid, nanny, personal assistant as well, to pay bills.But I'm a real professor, kids.
@RGM: Is Amy from Amherst? Amsterdam? Athens? Atlanta? Asheville? Albany? Alpacaville?
Sex work and adjuncting have many similarities, but I'm guessing the former pays better.
I'm curious how the student even knew your rank! I can't get them to stop calling professors "teachers."
Oh, good question. I'm not a real professor because...I speak my mind, or sulk in disapproving silence. With students, colleagues, administrators. I've perfected the art of the abundantly justified and well-documented rant. Or, as my partner likes to put it, I'm STFU-challenged. Hence that little prefix "associate", which I detest, and the resulting long-term pay cut. Here to stay, apparently, regardless of research results.
Try being a non-tenure-track ("contract") associate. Yes, that oxymoronic title exists at my institution (and I will soon carry it -- a "reward" for over a decade of hard work that carries no tangible benefits). I'm relieved that I won't still be "assistant" (and I imagine that, in another decade or so, I'll be chafing at being forever "associate," at which point I can apply for promotion again -- yes, it's a whole system of meaningless titles), but it's still a bit disorienting. Don't they have criteria for promotion in your neck of the woods? Or are they just ignoring them?
(Late here, but didn't want to leave this unanswered.) There are countries where promotion is a simply a matter of meeting published criteria: if you continue to be productive as a scientist and are a competent teacher, promotion is a right.That's not the case in the US, where one has to jump through several hoops of a social nature: the full professors vote on it (in my dept you need 3/4 in favor), then the dept chair has to recommend in your favor, then there are college-level committees and the dean (promotions in my dept have been blocked at the college level due to student evaluations in service classes). In a situation like this, "fairness" is not the issue, "likability" is. And also how you fit into the political factions in the dept (pure vs applied, etc.) In my case, I'd probably have 2/3 of the vote, but the most recent department heads have been on the opposite camp. Finally, now that there is no retirement age, in a top-heavy department like mine holding back promotions is one way the older people can hang on to a scrap of power.But you're right, in the grand scheme of things I don't have a lot to complain about.
I thought there had been a move away from "collegiality"-based standards, in part because they often turn out to disadvantage women and members of minority groups. But it sounds like they're still alive and well in some places (though perhaps hiding in another guise).
I don't think most of the students at my second-tier state u know the difference. In fact, I'm pretty sure they don't, since I've spent the last week explaining to a number of them why their favorite professor from "intro to ----" or even "research methods in -----" doesn't have any publications (hint: (s)he's been too busy teaching umpteen sections of intro/research methods in ----- so other members of hir department can concentrate on publishing). Note to administrators: they really are like ducklings; they imprint on their earliest professors in their fields. Much as I'd like them to be a bit more adventurous, this does suggest some downsides to our present stratified system of assigning classes, and some potential upsides, in terms of retention, comprehension, etc. to the intro professors also teaching at the upper levels. In the more highly-educated (and generally wealthier, my presence notwithstanding) social (church and family) circles in which I move, however, both parents and students are very aware. I was discussing college choices with a young cousin over winter break, and she referred to adjuncts with an expression on her face that was somewhere between disgust and disdain, and was heartily shocked to learn that I had been an adjunct, and still am, by some definitions of the word. Then I started explaining to her that, the protestations of tour guides notwithstanding, she is going to have grad TAs (dressed up with a slightly fancier British-sounding title) if she decides to a certain Ivy that several family members have attended, and that is known for its attention to undergrads. After all, I taught my first classes (solo, with little supervision) as a grad student there. That's when her parents jumped in and diverted the conversation (said Ivy is a very good deal if you're upper-middle-class or below). My general impression of parents in the educated classes is that they really, really want to believe that there's a way to avoid their children being affected by the present sorry state of higher education. I understand the impulse: after all, their kids need a college education and they're expecting to pay outrageous prices (assuming their kids don't get into one of the extremely-generous Ivies, or get a similar scholarship at another private school, probably by going somewhere that isn't quite as challenging as they could handle). It's hard for them to believe that they can't get an excellent education -- or at least good value -- for their money somewhere. The answer in many cases is probably the/a flagship state u (another option my young cousin is seriously considering, and I suspect the one she might be best off taking). But of course they'll be taught by adjuncts and grad students there, too. The key, really, is that the students have the self-discipline (and the initiative) to take advantage of the excellent opportunities available to them at all kinds of institutions, if they choose (the good news for students with initiative is that they're still few and far enough between at most institutions that they can find professors who have time for them). But that's not exactly what helicopter parents -- or even parents who know their late teenagers still have some maturing to do -- want to hear.
But it's very true, though. Given enough talent, initiative and drive, you can get a world-class education at the state U. And if you don't have them, you'll just be another average striver, shiny Ivy degree or not. Or, as a good friend of mine put it a long time ago: Lo que Dios no da', Salamanca no presta.
Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.