Prof. Earnestness asked: Why do you do it? Why are you here?
- For the same reasons as you, and then some. I love my job. I love this core group of students I have that take all my classes. I even love the majority of the rest of them. At the end of the semester when I get the notes, cards and emails telling me how great the class was, how I influenced a life, changed a major, encouraged the disheartened, I print them out and keep them in a file (a growing file I might add). Just ONE of those at the end of the semester makes it all worth it. It IS really enough. But NOTHING is quite as satisfying as pounding out my frustrations on this public forum. What I write to RYS is my occasional, but possibly lethal, frustration. It is my therapy to work out the kinks in what is otherwise the perfect profession for me. I need it. What I don't need is some mealy mouth telling me I'm naughty for needing it. So bug off.
- It's easier than working for a living. I used to work in industry, and the academy affords such flexibility and creativity, that I'd never go back. The students drive me batty, but the hours are great and I can spend part of every day reading and writing about what I love. But, the students really are worse than they were 10 years ago when I started. And it makes me feel much better to know I'm not alone when I'm thinking about throwing them all out of class for being rude, insensitive louts.
- I'm the most negative person I know in my department, and I still wouldn't change professions. I get so freaking mad at my students some time that I just want to send them packing out of a class when they aren't engaging. (And I have!) But I love the subject matter that I teach, and I love turning students on to it. There is no outlet other than this one for me to voice my frustration, and as much as my husband and friends want to understand, they work in business, and don't understand why a student emailing me at 3 am for a grade bugs me. So I come here and let fly when I'm at the end of my rope.
- I'm here to do math. In exchange for lots of time to do math, they make me teach. I accept that. I take my teaching responsibilities seriously; it's part of my job, and I take pride in doing my job well. But teaching is not why I got a PhD in math, nor is it why I became a professor (not a teacher) of math. I'm here to do math.
- I love what I do. However, teaching is my hobby-that-pays rather than my livelihood (I have a full-time job at a financial services company). I do find teaching rewarding; I created lesson plans in my head constantly in the five years I was out of academia; I enjoy watching my students succeed. I also enjoy being able to take it or leave it—it takes a lot of the stress out of evaluations, politics, and general BS—and I adore being snarky about it. Is it a rewarding job? Absolutely. Do I like to bitch about it anyway? Yup. Do I enjoy hearing others rant and realizing that I’m not alone in not being Professor Pollyanna? Yes! It’s life and sanity saving. I have no clue why others get their undies in such a bunch about it, but really—I can be cynical, snarky and still love what I do (and even, I hope, be good at what I do!).