Academic Philosophy


I was reading Joanne Jacobs and she was discussing a whole discourse on academia. I read most of the related links on several websites, enjoying the discussion and recognizing salient points from different perspectives.

All of which I want to mention particularly because it made me feel … stupid. The discussions were articulate, well-developed, and coherent. Okay, that didn’t make me feel stupid. I can read/write those.

But I don’t think about the unfairness of tenure anymore (if I ever did) or the overwhelmingly slanted workload/pay of adjuncts. I’m an adjunct. I gave up a tenure track position I was fairly certain of maintaining to follow my husband to a different job. I have not applied for a tenure track position where we now live because I am busy. Too busy to be a full-time teacher with a schedule I don’t get to pick. I can be a full-time teacher getting part-time pay, if I get to pick the schedule. The discussions seemed mired in a reality I vaguely recall from grad school (I have a PhD.).

The vocabulary is wide. So is mine. But I don’t use those words on a regular basis, at least not any more. I tend to use words that those around me understand, or words that I think they understand. And I don’t hang around with academics anymore.

I miss academia. I miss the push to produce papers, which I got in grad school but not in my tenure track position. I miss the encouragement of others who are wanting to learn as much as I do. I miss talking to other people about my work.

But if I read back through my blogs, or you do, you won’t find deep discussions. You’ll find grumpy low-level disgruntlement at whiny students and complaining parents. You’ll find discussions of grades (I do try not to inflate. That was one thing my tenure track position didn’t agree with me on.). You’ll find someone who feels overworked, just like the adjuncts always are.

You won’t find someone who feels reviled, demeaned, or put-upon by their level in the academic society. Maybe that is because I am unaware of my place, though I doubt it. Maybe it is because my colleges don’t punish adjuncts by giving them the scut assignments. EVERYONE gets the scut assignments. (That is definitely true.) Maybe it is because I am naive in thinking that this is the way it has always been for adjuncts.

I wish it weren’t. It would be nice to get paid, not just for the hours I spend in the classroom, but for at least some of the hours I spend grading papers. Instead, I spend six hours a week in the classroom and generally at least that many working on essays. Realistically, if the colleges paid for that, they’d have much higher tuitions and probably fewer students. (At least at the community college level.)

But, then again, the school I was in a tenure track for had, maybe, one adjunct position per department. They just weren’t there. The full-time faculty was not well paid, but they were full time. Adjuncts came in only for unusual jumps and, if it turned out to be a permanent jump, then the adjuncts were hired on full time.

I suppose my position might be unique, but I don’t think it is. Anyway, my position, or even my feelings about it, aren’t reallly the point. The point is, my discussions on this blog do not wax philosophical. They’re just day to day shower and shampoo kind of discussions.

Is that bad? And why do I think it might be? –Those are thoughts I intend to pursue, even if I don’t blog about them.

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