Teaching, At All Levels, Is More than a Full-time Job

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Shari Wilson writes an interesting column on the challenges of being a post-secondary professor -- and compares it with her experiences in industry.

This reminds me very much of Horace's Compromise, the classic book by Ted Sizer about a high school teacher's struggle to deal with all the demands of his time and energy in order to be a decent teacher. Both Sizer and Wilson point out that grading alone is a huge time-sink. Do the math for a high school teacher: five classes, 30 kids per class, and a measly one minute per assignment = two and a half hours of grading, potentially every night. Add in-class time, office hours, and lecture prep time, and we're well over eight hours a day.

For university faculty, add on top of that the things that might get you tenure one day: fundraising, grant-proposal writing, advising grad students, committee meetings, attending conferences, reading the literature for your field... it isn't a job, it's an all-consuming lifestyle.

Is there a better way? Or is this the way it should be?



The Discussion

  • User profile image
    My mother was a teacher and so was my wife's father, and both of them had work to do every night. Over time, if you teach the same course(s) I think it gets better and better as you have much of the prep work done, etc...

    Really though, I do the same ... I work every night to just get my day's work done, and I don't really even have the time to do all the other "work" that I need to do (reading the literature related to my profession, following even just a few blogs to keep track of recent news, writing articles/books). When I didn't have kids it was worse, because it was hard to justify spending any time not spent working...
  • User profile image
    Matthew Mushall

    There has got to be a better way.  My father teaches 2 High school and 2 college courses almost daily.  Almost all his time at home or away from school is spent grading assignments or further research.  I think part of the problem is the number of students per class.  Anything over 25 students is simply too much.  Smaller calsses are easier for the students and the teacher.  I think the system is just overpopulated.

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