Thursday, March 13, 2008

"I Used To Teach Saturdays, But Then I Won These Awards."

For my first few years, every time my turn to teach a low-level gen ed course came around in the rotation, I always jumped on the Saturday course. I like teaching them. I figure in an average two-day or three-day lecture, I waste so much time with classroom management, that wasn't wasted in a Saturday course. In my experience, the students were more serious as well. I had a lot of non-traditional students (people finishing their degrees for a promotion, bored housewives looking to better themselves, etc.), a few people who needed the class to graduate, and a couple nerds like me who just liked Saturday morning classes.

Well, my shift as Saturdayman ended a couple years ago. A book I wrote won a couple awards around the same time that somebody notices a practical use for a theory in my dissertation and I guess I was a "hot commodity" to the dean or something, because my department chair and I were called into a meeting with him where we discussed why I shouldn't be "wasted" on non-traditional students. (Wasted was his word, not mine, and this ignored the fact that the only people who would care about my research are physics students, who I was still teaching Monday through Thursday, not communication and history majors who just needed a science credit).

You see, the administration doesn't care about non-traditional students or commuter students. They only care about their precious "live-on-campus, go to class between 9 and 3 traditional students that are more likely to be wonderful successes." That attitude tends to creep down the ladder after so many years (or get forced into our throats) until you have faculty members who regard the "non-traditional" time periods with as much disdain as the administration.

Sometimes as well, it's not so much that they share the feeling, it's more that they just know it's not worth the fight, so they pass these courses along to the adjuncts and junior faculty, and happily skip along to their weekends.