Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I cleaned out my office over the past two days. No more teaching. Today's the first day that I'm not a college professor. I've been teaching a dozen years, the last 6 at a medium sized state university in the northeast.

I tell my friends outside the academy that I just got tired of babysitting, and that's as close as I can come to explaining it to anyone.

When I was in college, it never occurred to me that I was there to be placated and entertained. I wasn't brought up in a time when every spelling bee contestant got a ribbon, and where every soccer team went home at the end of the year with a 4 foot high trophy. College was tough, and it was worth something.

But something happened - or so it seems - between the end of college and the end of grad school. As soon as I started teaching I was pressured in minor and major ways to ease the students through the big educational machine. Low student evaluations - always a result of tough classes or "honest" grading - resulted in ominous visits to the chair's office or the Dean's office.

And so I slacked off like my colleagues had done, became popular, and taught less and less. I won a teaching award 2 years ago. We have 350 faculty members and I was chosen professor of the year. I'm glad I didn't have to make a speech because I would have choked. I knew I wasn't a good teacher. I had become an entertaining facilitator and that was all. That I was good at that brings me nothing but unhappiness.

And so I got sicker and sicker of it. Sicker of the entitlement and the low expectations of everyone around me. My colleagues have drunk up the Kool-Aid and they look at me like I have two heads when I say I can't do it anymore.

I don't have a job, but thankfully my wife has worked a long time in the bio-tech world and I can probably have a year to figure out a new career. But it won't be teaching. At least not in a traditional college or university. Those places are now - by and large - jokes. So little is expected that drunk and horny students make the Dean's list, and we all smile and pat ourselves on the back for making it so.

I guess I shouldn't say "we" anymore. It's your problem now. I quit.