adjunct pay whine

Forstater, Mathew ForstaterM at
Wed Mar 21 08:33:51 PST 2001

I have to say I also love teaching. Maybe "fun" isn't the right word, but deep and rewarding enjoyment, yes. It is hard work, but work can and should be enjoyable. Not drudgery, not toiling under horrible conditions, being exploited, like most jobs in modern capitalism, but I don't buy into the neoclassical depiction of work as a 'natural' 'disutility.' Neither do zillions of psychological, sociological, anthropological studies. And I also agree with Justin that people who hate it should switch careers, unless they absolutely do not take out their frustrations on their students. Education is too important to have cynical teachers who destroy the experience for students. There is plenty to be cynical and bitter about but it is not the students' fault. Mat

-----Original Message----- From: Justin Schwartz [mailto:jkschw at] Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2001 10:08 AM To: lbo-talk at Subject: Re: adjunct pay whine

Jesus, Dennis, that's really sad. I _loved_ graduate school, had boatloads of fun. I thought it was wonderful. I had vast acres of free time. I was asked to read books I wanted to read. I was asked to write about things that interested me. I got to talk to interesting, intelligent people. My fellow grad students, many of whom lucked out and are now teaching at good schools, or were doing so. Theyw ere sharp as hell, and we'd sit up all night for night on end arguing about Quine. Allan Gibbard and Peter Railton and Liz Anderson had to read my stuff and tell me what they thought of it! (I can't get them to do it now . . . . ) If I wanted to go learn quantum physics (I did, one year), no problem. If I wanted to take a year off to organize, well, as long as I taught my classes, I could. (And did.) I got to be someplace I'd rather be--Ann Arbor, Cambridge (England). And I got PAID for it. Well, not at Cambridge, and not much. But hell, I was Chaucer's Clerke of Oxenforde, I could afford books, who needed food?

And I adored teaching from the first scared moment I went into the classroom with no training. Honest to God, I love the law, but the thing I miss is teaching. I loved teaching as TA, and it and my own scholarship was what sustained me through the dark days when I was being fired. And I taught all kinds of students, from smart rich kids at Kalamazoo to uninterested working class kids in 500 person large lectures at Ohio State. I had bad days and bad classes, hell, every love affair has its ups and downs. But like Ol Blue Eyes, I surely do miss "the conversation with the flying plates"; I'd do it again. I was (and am) a super teacher, maybe because I love it so much. When I go back to Ohio, total strangers, former students, still come up to me in streets and say, Professor Schwartz? "You won't remember me [true enough], but I took your ethics class in 1990 and it changed my life." This happens a decade later. Talk about a rush! You can't buy a compliment like that, except with currency that's real gold. As to being a ratebuster, I worked at it, but I didn't mind it (usually); it was too much fun.

As to the joys of dentistry, I must be really twisted. I really liked law school too. But then I was lucky enough to go to Ohio State rather than Yale (well, Michigan Law, which is where I was going to go before I came to my financial senses; I didn't get into Yale.)

I can't say I wasn't told abiut the job situation. Michigan philosophy and political science were upfront about the grim prospects. And of course the Ohio State philosophy students knew too. I will say that my first diss advisor wrongly told me that I shouldn't go to law school when I was originally planning to go (back in 1982), "You're too good," he said, "You'll be OK." And I did get a job. I guess it was my fault for not keeping it because I was a red. He couldn't or failed to factor that into hsi equations.


>Justin Schwartz wrote:
> >
> > Whine, whine. Teaching is fun. If you don't think so, you should quit
> > school. After all, teaching as a prof isn't that different from
>teaching as
> > a TA, just better paid. It's part of what the job entails, even if
> > isn't based on teaching except at research schools. I loved teaching,
> > for baby logic, both as a TA and as a prof. Not that it helped me in the
> > end.
> >
>This is flamebait, right? Sometiems threads on these lists kinda work
>like some mad puppy chasing and chomping on its own tail damn sure that
>the pain it's feeling can't be worse than the pain it's inflicting.
>Whine? Teaching is work. Work and fun only go together in say a
>sentence like, "Golly its fun watching them work." If you thought
>teaching was all fun, you weren't doing it correctly. Either that
>or you were perhaps some highly skilled and motivated ratebuster.
>No wonder you were pushing
>differential rewards.
>Now I'd prefer to avoid a Yates farewell redux, but I've been
>teaching for 15 years and have yet to experience it as fun.
>There's lots of positives and pleasures that I might theoretically
>on a good day enjoy from teaching, but I don't find fun fitting in
>there. Had we the time, I might inquire into your views
>about the joys of dentistry.
>At least fun was something grad school was upfront about. There'd
>be none.
>While you would think that folks entering graduate school would know
>very well that 1) the unemployment rate for their discipline has
>remained stuck at the historical high it achieved during the great
>depression so that the chances of getting a full-time job in that
>discipline has you more likely being hit by a falling space station
>while you are crumbling from the lightning that just struck you first,
>and 2) regardless of what XXXXist you want to be in order to do
>research and get invited to all the cool parties because you're one
>neat expert, the global career translator has you simply listed as
>"teacher," but you'd be wrong.
>Career prospects and the precise way in which one acutally labors
>in that career are surprisingly not well communicated.
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