Thursday, December 26, 2013

7 Years Ago on RYS. The RYS Flashback.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

...and We All Ride Ponies to Work.

This is my first post here at RYS, and after reading through the rest of it, all I can say is, boy, do I have it good.

Yeah the pay sucks, and I have no job security or benefits, but what makes that tolerable is the fact that my students are great and it's not what I'm bringing to the class, it's what they are.

95% are serious about their schooling. They work their butts off. If they didn't, they'd fail. They're respectful, fun, profane, disagree with me all the time, eager, and they help each other out. The workload we thrust upon them is tremendous. I would find it crushing and that's an oft-heard comment made by my colleagues as well.

And here's something else - my colleagues and I like each other. They do their job and the students have acquired the knowledge they need to progress. My boss is even great. We fail students and kick them out of the program for low grades and attendance all the time. If students want to challenge a grade, they agree to a mediation, and their grade is raised or lowered without complaint.

If a student is having a problem, I usually don't have to set up a one-on-one session , they approach me, and most don't offer up excuses. They ask how they can improve their work and pointedly request that I not be soft with them.

I failed a student last term and he thanked me for it, saying he needed the kick in the pants, and he's come around completely.


  1. My first impulse is to jeer, lucky bastard!

    On second thought, though, I was an Accursed Visiting Assistant Professor at a small engineering school just outside of Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In a way, it was wonderful: it was like getting to teach at Starfleet Academy, and during a more interesting period in history. Many of the students weren't as good as the ones described here, though, and some colleagues were not as likable. One department Chair was humorless, unsupportive, and outright incompetent.

    Still, it wasn't so bad. What got old soonest was having pay that sucked, and no job security or benefits. To paraphrase Peter Feibelman in "A Ph.D. Is Not Enough," forget all that romantic nonsense about "the life of the mind" they feed you in grad school. You will remain a human being, with human needs, and you will not be happy without a reasonably secure, reasonably well-paid job. You also might like some time off, to see family and friends.

    I went out and got me a tenure-track position, with two observatories all to myself. When I made the transition, I wondered whether I would get better students---I didn't---or at least wouldn't have to get so emotionally involved in my students' education. That also didn't happen, and maybe it's my own fault, for caring more about my students' education than they do, but then I always thought that was a tall order, since some of my students don't care anything at all about their educations.

    I wonder what happened to this poster? Is this person still enjoying pay that sucks and no security or benefits, or did it eventually get old, as it did with me?

  2. I've asked Les about contacting old posters, the ones who come and visit and are never heard from again. It's hard to do.

    1. Thanks, Terry. This being an anonymous blog, one never does know where these come from. For all we know, this person might turn out to be Strelnikov!

    2. Recently I have reached out to a few former community members to ask about updates. But in most cases I don't hear back, or the original poster chooses not to submit new information.