[snip] I have a tenure-track full time teaching position at a HUGE urban community college. [snip]Well put and, I imagine, right on target. As more and more of us start expanding our searches wider and wider, all of this seems to be worth keeping in mind.
The teaching loads and assignments for CCs vary by institution, location, student population, and (crucially) unionization/union effectiveness. My teaching load (12 classes per year split between fall spring and summer, with a guaranteed nine week off period) often elicits cartoon-worthy eye pops from others in the discipline. But its really not nearly as bad as all the fainting and chest-clutching would have one think. I still have plenty of time to do other things, or, you know, sit around and watch TV instead.
[snip] CC/Jr Colleges vary in the funding they are offered by their respective states, but the approach to budget is generally no-frills. (CCs are expected by state legislatures to teach the hardest populations at the highest volumes with the most effectiveness at the lowest cost; basically, it's the Ivory Dungeon.) [snip]
Another problem is (and don't take this the wrong way) most philosophy Ph.D.s are totally and completely unprepared for the sheer poverty of education students have had before arriving at these institutions. They are almost always completely unprepared for college, educationally immature, and borderline illiterate. They are typically extremely poor and have been systematically deprived of real education throughout their entire primary and secondary education. Working in CCs, depending again on location and economic background, is really, genuinely social justice work -- with all the stress and joy that brings with it. Frankly, most of the folks I know in philosophy -- from first year grad student to respected tenured full professor -- would not be able to survive, let alone thrive, in such an environment. It requires real knowledge about pedagogy, real sensitivity to problems of race and class oppression, and some measure of actual training in how to teach. You can't fly by in this environment just with your innate abilities. You must consider teaching a skill and be willing to revise and change; you must give up the idea of meritocracy to some degree; you must face your own unearned privileges.
That being said, I love my job -- at least on most days. And I may be working in the Ivory Dungeon, but its still better than being a corporate slave (which I have done, and would never do again). I feel like what I do actually matters, and that even if I am not a philosopher remembered by time, I will have meant something to at least some of the students I teach. (I'm 3 years in, and the tally is at 2,600 students so far.)
-- Jaded Dissertator