…about spending time on teaching.
Unlike everyone else, I do not spend enough time up front and it always means I spend more time later. Giving out assignments designed for people who have skills my students don’t, assignments that are easier to write because they do not break things down into steps and smaller steps, only means I have to spend more time discussing thesis statements with students and more brain power deciphering drafts. I want to allow myself to put in the time in the first place, since that saves time and energy in the end.
Why do I not? Because people have been urgently telling me how I will never publish or get tenure if I do not cut down the amount of time I spend preparing class since before I had even entered a classroom — since before I could even read. Then the academic advice people started haranguing about it, although nobody in graduate school or at any job I have had did. But I knew it was really important not to spend time on teaching, really important. I feel guilty and fearful when I work on things for classes, just as I do when I do research.
In graduate school I envied the other students, the ones who were really working on their syllabi and course concepts, because that was part of their professional preparation. I knew I could not afford to do that because all my time had to go to my seminar papers so these would at least be good enough that I would be kept on another year. I had already been told I would not get a job and I knew I did not really deserve to be in the program — they had only admitted me and funded me to be nice, or in error. I had not “done it on my own” but on some special favor, I kept being told.
Professional preparation was immaterial for those reasons. I would at best be kept on and get the degree. Without luck I would then become a receptionist in an office. With luck I would work for an organism like UNESCO.
That really was how I thought I stood. It is not as though I acted on that in terms of daily life, I was far more positive than that. But it was how I thought I stood en el fondo, because I had received so very many warnings. I had heard so much about how I was not qualified, and about how I had disappointed everyone by imagining I could be.
So when I now say I want to spend time on teaching, I only mean enough time to do it right and in a relaxed way. I do not mean, at all, that I “value” teaching over research. I also cannot stand those cozy teaching atmospheres where one talks about how one feels, plays guitars, eats cookies, and sits on the grass, because I am a coldhearted scientist.
I just mean, I have always had jobs where teaching was 70% of my contract and I want that time sometimes. I want to claim it at the outset, not end up spending it to solve problems created by not having put in enough time in the first place. I do not need all of this time every semester but I think I and the students have a right to it when that is what is needed to make things work.