Friday, September 21, 2012

The University System Today

Everybody here has a cold hence the no blogging thing.  But I'm feeling much better now.  In fact so much better that I cleaned part of my disastrous house yesterday.  Several days of a cold, quarantining of children, equal chaos.

What you Can Do

So I asked Hubby if you were a University Professor, a single guy with two children (say I died or something), what would you do if your children got sick? 

"Oh, you're talking about that lady, right?  The one who brought her sick kid to class."


"Well, I wouldn't bring them to class.  It's...what am I looking for...."



"So what would you do?"

"Well, I would have a back up because kids get sick so you need another fall back plan."


That's why Professor Pine's latest to turn the tide of the focus being on her breasts to being on child care won't work.  Because most parents in her situation always have a fall back plan.  And here's what I suggest...

Find a temp nanny service that specializes in taking care of sick kids.  Since she's in DC it's likely there is one in her area.  The usually are in big metro areas.

Ask a college to watch her daughter during class.  If her college has kids, this can be reciprocated.   Some suggested this online and I've heard of families where both parents are proffs swapping off who gets to watch the sick kid during each others lectures.

Ask the TA to cover her lecture although this leads to my other topic in this post.

Skype.  Most colleges are that tech savy.

Ask a friend.  She did end up doing just that although she got touchy about the cost.  Sorry but kids can be expensive.

Cancel class.

I've heard some say that professors don't get that kind of lee way, but they do.  That's what having a TA is for.  It's the same with students.  I've had students make up exams simply because they had a band commitment, court, delivered a baby, and were sick.  People make it out to be that most professors are unforgiving and that's simply not true.  And it's also true that most professors only teach two or three classes per semester if at all making it very easy for them to get help with a sick child.  I think Dr. Pine can handle finding someone to cover for her either taking her sick child or taking the class.

TAs, are they Qualified?

Hubby asked me a while back if I would look over his teaching experience letter that goes with his job application.  I know my husband's basic credentials.  He has an associates in engineering, bachelor's of physics, and phd in planetary science.  He has never taken education/teaching classes especially not the heavy duty load I've taken.

So I asked him how many lectures did he give as a TA (teaching assistance).  "Um, two."  "Two?"  "Yeah, I could have done more but I decided to focus on my career instead."  "You mean the research part of your career."  "Yeah."  "Well, what did you do?"  "I mostly graded papers, but I also ran exam reviews and held office hours."  "So you've never really taught anything.  You've got no real experience."  " could you still help me with this?"  "You do realize how lucky you are?"  "Huh?"  "That you married a teacher."  "Yeah, I know."  cue sheepish grin.

That's right today's sharp minded professors have zero to very little actual teaching experience.  Not only are they never made to take any teaching classes unlike school teachers who are required to take ongoing credits to keep their license, professors are never licensed or properly apprenticed.  And now you know why some of your professors were...terrible.   They never taught anything and their mentors may have also been terrible teachers.  As they say, you may be great in your subject matter but that doesn't make you able to explain it.

This also might explain why Dr. Pine decided not to let her TA take over.  Her TA may have never taught anything.  It also leaves me very humbled because I taught a university class for juniors over a summer session.  No outside help.  I took the curriculum and came up with the tests and class projects and gave the lectures.  I must have done so well because the following summer they asked me to do it again (I already had another job for the summer).  And I don't have a master's degree.  TAs without a master's aren't supposed to give grades to other grads (some of whom were taking it remedially).  So I asked how the grades were going to be given.  Basically the proffs were going to trust me and sign-off on them.  I guess they thought I was qualified.  (In your face, Arizona State, who said I wasn't qualified to major in musicology!)

Okay, I digress.

This of course scares me to know end.  How on earth is Hubby going to get a job without very much teaching cred?  Oh, sure he could build it at a local junior college.  But the problem is that they don't have labs and without a lab he can't run experiments.  And without experiments he can't produce papers.  And without papers he hasn't a prayer that he will land a job at a major university.  Panic.

But I can't fix that now.

So just how do I expect that Hubby is going to work on his teaching cred while trying to work on his research cred (in a place where every piece of lab equipment to every experiment he wants to run is broken...he has bad karma or something this happened during his phd which is why it took something like 8 years)?

I hope people aren't really looking for a lot of experience.  And in the mean time, I get to teach to teach.

I've already told him I plan on attending his lectures and helping him figure out how to set up his classes because I don't intend to produce a no teaching professor.

Yes, he should count himself lucky that he's married to a teacher.

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