Friday, March 30, 2012

From InsideHigherEd.

Calling all Academics: April 2 as the Day for Higher Ed
March 27, 2012 - 9:11pm
We’ve all read it and clearly we all have an opinion on it. And as much as we wring our hands and see the writing on the wall (they came for the k-12 teachers, and we said/did nothing [and in fact in many cases added our voices to those who would seek to undermine them], and now they are coming for us), we collectively do very little to change the perception that the general has about people teaching in higher education.
And I say teaching because so many of us who are teaching aren’t officially professors. Most of us are not salaried professionals, but hourly workers, being paid for only the hours taught. Because of that, the “other” work that needs to get done in higher education is falling increasingly on the shoulders on those who are “fortunate” enough to be on the tenure track. Yes, we are salaried professionals who get paid an “annual” (but in most cases, nine-month) salary to do a job that increasingly never ends: serve students, do research, reform curriculum, advise graduate students, supervise student groups, sit on committees…the list keeps growing and growing while salaries remain stagnant and 24 hours still remains as the length of any given day.
But you know all of that, you’re here, you’re reading my blog, perhaps regularly, perhaps not. We know what we do. We know what the majority of us are doing, anonymously, thanklessly, and increasingly for lower and lower pay. The arguments and observations I’m making here are not new; I’ve made them here and elsewhere, and so have others, more eloquently than I. So why are we still having this discussion?
We need a Day of HigherEd (hashtag #dayofhighered). While many of us have written posts broadly outlining what we do in a day (and how disgusted we all are by the at best misleading and at worst dishonest portrayal of our work), few of us have ever taken the time to actually record, in minutia, what we do as professors from the moment we wake up to the minute we fall asleep. All the work we do that contributes to our job as educators.


  1. This just seems infantile to me. Will it really change the mind of anyone who thinks profs are lazy? No. It'll all be like the Gawker article - "if you have time to document, you clearly aren't busy."

  2. I don't think one day is going to do it.

  3. It seems like this would simply be a case of preaching to the converted.

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  5. Dumb. Very, very dumb.

    Firstly, I don't feel the need to justify my existence to people who think I lie around with my thumb up my ass. Those people can go fuck themselves. Full stop. I'm not going to sit around with a timer and chronicle how long I grade, when I stop to have an English muffin and read the paper, when I start grading again, when I stop to take a crap, etc. etc. etc. Again, the person that wants me to do that so they can believe I work for a living can go fuck themselves.

    Secondly, all it's going to do is cause the idiots that don't think we work to say, "See! They have all day to write long-winded accounts of how much they work! Instead of, you know, actually working!"

    And you know what? They'd be right.

    I grade on Mondays and I prep my Tuesday classes. There. I justified my existence.

    If anyone isn't happy with that explanation, and is doubtful about how hard I work, again, they can, you know...go fuck themselves.

  6. Have we sunk this far? Good lord.

    OK, I see the point. I have nothing against the author but I can't support this. People think we only work when we are in class. They also think judges only work when court is in session, football players only play 60 minutes (with commercial breaks!) on the weekend and actors only do their thing for two hours as they watch the movie.

    Sorry, I'm too busy doing my job. If these clowns want to find out what I do, they can search NSF's website of funded grants.

  7. Wait Stella, don't you grade WHILE you crap? ;)

  8. If you think you're too busy to record what you're doing during the day, you've clearly never been a consultant. ;) At the firm I left to return to academia, we billed in half hour increments and had to submit our hours daily, so we had to keep track as the day went on. Even worse, the attorneys with whom I occasionally worked billed in six minute increments. It's doable.

  9. Um, am I the only one who's noticed that this is scheduled for the day after April Fools' Day? I think the general public is going to notice this. Folks, if we want the general public to think more highly of the professoriate, we have to frame the argument in terms of how it will benefit our students.

  10. I'm of two -- possibly three -- minds on the whole issue. It does seem like a new iteration of the old manual/intellectual labour divide, except now it has acquired an overlay of value=$$$. I think one of the reasons the Humanities has come under fire is because we do a crappy job of explaining what it is that we do and how it connects to the "real world."

    According to the "real world," I spend my time counting the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin that anchors an imaginary hat to the head of THE WORLD'S GREATEST WRITER, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. Either that, or I'm Ilsa, She-Wolf of the Grammar Nazis. Or, I should be conversant in whatever author someone happens to be reading at the moment. (In truth, in my spare time, I prefer history and non-fiction: nothing scares of an interloper more than the sight of me ploughing through the latest biography of Hitler. I even leave it in my car to ward off the local ragamuffins.)

    In reality, I spend my time trying to understand a whole range of issues, from how daytime talk-shows assert gender/class standards, to how men in the past talked about childbirth, to how to convince my students that their google-affected hummingbird-small attention spans are neither a NATURAL nor a GOOD thing.

    Frequently, this work takes place outside of my office -- and even outside of "real world" office hours. Increasingly, and in light of recent economic upheavals, I'm realizing that, in fact, this analytical skills are in short supply in the "real world," and as much as SS and others may sneer, these analytical skills are of greater potential "value" than those skills celebrated in the circles that SS and others frequent.


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