Friday, February 26, 2010

You Go To School To Learn, Not For A Fashion Show

I know we've had an excessive number of "what do you wear" posts in the last couple of months, to the point where we've beyond exhausted the topic. It's probably just a symptom of general over-thinking and job-market stress--once you've sent out your applications, there's not much about the process you can control, and so the importance of little insignificant things you can control is distorted.

But it's important not to lose sight of the real goal: to get a permanent teaching job at the college level. I like teaching, and I seem to be good at it, and I want it to be my career. Being on the job market is time-consuming and stressful. And when I am super busy and stressed out, I get grouchy. And when I get grouchy, I am less patient with my students and I can tell that it affects my teaching.

Now, I know that tenure-line jobs come with more responsibilities and that they'll keep me awfully busy, but I think there's a difference between being busy because I have a full-time, permanent job I all-things-considered love with some shitty details, and being busy because I have a full-time job but which has no future, and another part-time job I don't like at all, being on the job market. Just give me a job and let me do my job.

--Mr. Zero

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

The grass is always greener...now with a TT position in hand, almost a year into it, I daydream about my carefree days as a VAP, no administrative duties, only teaching and research on my agenda. Whereas then I taught a 2:2 load, made less money and had plenty of time to write papers, now I teach a 4:4 load, make more money (but not enough to go on vacation) and have very little time to write. I pray for snow days so that I can complete the papers on revise/resubmit with journals sitting in my in-box. I dread the next faculty senate meeting or committee meeting in which people drone on for hours and hours complaining about petty things. My advice: Enjoy where you are now, you might wax nostalgic about it later.

Anonymous said...

Agree with 10:36. A "permanent" job is myth anyway, given the layoffs and firings we're seeing in the tenured line worldwide these dys...

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:36, if you don't like your job, then please resign so that one of the current job market candidates can have it.

There's no denying the human tendency to dream of greener pastures. But your romanticizing of a previous VAP that afforded no job security just isn't compelling, seeing that you now have a tt job with a manageable (albeit not great) teaching load. (And, pace Anon@11:13, it doesn't follow from the recent events at U of FL that "a 'permanent' job is [a] myth," in general).

Anon 10:36, it sounds like you've forgotten how bad the market was last year. If not, then try to imagine it being twice as bad as that. And if you do, then you'll have a sense of what it's like to be on the market this year. Perhaps that will help you appreciate how lucky you are to have a tenure-track job.

Filosofer said...

Easy now, 12:41. I think 10:36 was just pointing out our human tendency to always be so focused on the next thing that we fail to appreciate the good things about where we are now. 10:36 didn't say, or imply, that she'd be better off as a VAP.

Anonymous said...

I never really understood what the whole problem was with professional dress, and, honestly have not really followed the debate here. Is it really that hard to figure out? There are tons of guides on professional dress available in print or online. I went from clothes-clueless (as in... last semester of undergrad wearing torn old jeans, tank top, no bra, bandana) to top-notch professional and dare I say even fashionable (to the point where I now routinely get compliments on my look from total strangers pretty much all the time) in a matter of a month (because my job-to-pay-for-masters required it), and it was done on a relatively short budget. I've never had a problem dressing professionally since. And I'm a woman -- more choices, more subtlety, more complexity, and more expensive in a lot of ways than men's clothes and grooming. (Dudes, let me assure you. Sephora is way more confusing to a make-up n00b than walking into a men's section of a department store. And, yes, make-up does make a huge difference in how women are perceived professionally, even if it shouldn't.)

I also see why it matters. I've heard from a veteran prof who has been teaching at my CC for nearly 40 years and worked about a decade and a half as an academic dean that faculty who dress professionally, on the whole, get better reviews and challenged less by students in grade court. Not exactly scientific evidence, but I believe her based on my own experience and I bet it would bear out in research. My guess is its either because our business-driven culture just trains people subconsciously to take you more seriously if you "look serious" or because more attractive professors get better reviews generally (and how you dress and groom impacts your attractiveness), or some combination of both.

Even if you disregard that as a good reason for a professional make over, I'd say even if you don't dress professionally all the time, I think the operating assumption is that as a representative of the department or institution or whatever, you should at least be able to look appropriate when it's required. When I was on a committee and interviewed job candidates, that's the main reason I thought it mattered. Like, "If appearing at a formal department event like a gallery opening (our department is humanities/philosophy and fine arts together) or a student music recital or a theatre opening, will this person embarrass us in front of the general public or if the college president + entourage show up?"

Just a thought from the other side of the table, at least from an institution where professional dress slightly (but only slightly, I think) more common than at your usual State U or SLAC.

Anonymous said...

10:36 here again,
Exactly, 1:10. I cannot go back. The VAP position was not better in ALL respects than my current TT position, such that I would choose to give it up. My point is just that last year I was constantly dreaming about a TT job, interviewing, struggling to pay my bills, hating where I was at (family and friends told me that I had a "very negative" frame of mind), the temp status of my position, lack of health insurance, no institutional support for conferencing...yet I failed to appreciate what I had: a lot more freedom (esp. to research and write) than I would have when my "dream" came true.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:10 is probably right that 10:36 didn't intend to suggest that, all things considered, she or he would be better off as a VAP. However, this is probably not the appropriate forum to romanticize visiting academic positions. Even if 10:36 didn't mean to come off as patronizing and smug, it would be difficult for many readers of this blog not to take it that way.

Anonymous said...

4/4 teaching load... I'm not sure why people are being so unsympathetic to 10:36.

Anonymous said...

4/4 teaching load... I'm not sure why people are being so unsympathetic to 10:36.

Because 10:36 has a tenure track job, and many, if not most, of the readers of this blog either 1) don't have a tenure track job and are trying to secure one in what looks like the worst job market in 30 years or 2) have jobs with heavier teaching loads (cf. the community college profs who occasionally weigh-in here).

As a rule, telling people who are less well-off to "enjoy where you are now" runs a high risk of sounding dickish.

Anonymous said...

10:36 didn't say, or imply, that she'd be better off as a VAP.

Anon 12:41 here. Filosofer, I never attributed the above claim to 10:36. Rather, I simply paraphrased as romanticizing his claim that he 'daydreams about his carefree days as a VAP'. Moreover, I granted that everyone has the "grass is always greener" tendency at some point.

I do however object very strongly to the use of 'grass is greener' as an appropriate characterization of the experiences of current job market candidates. It comes across as incredibly patronizing.

Keep in mind: not everyone here even has a VAP. And if the Feb JFP is any indication, many people here won't have one for 2010-2011. So when a tenure-track faculty member strolls through a blog of this nature and complains about missing the advantages of the VAP he used to have, it's likely to ring hollow to a lot of people's ears.

I mean, I'm sure it's unpleasant to sit in a committee meeting and have to listen to the petty complaints of one's colleagues. But it sure beats submitting application after application for no money and no job security, wondering all the while how you're going to pay your rent come August if nothing pans out.

Anonymous said...

4/4 teaching load... I'm not sure why people are being so unsympathetic to 10:36.

I know of at least one 4/4 job this year --in a not so great location-- which received over 350 applications. I suspect there was similar competition for other jobs with comparable teaching loads.

The current job market does not seem like an appropriate environment for complaining about having a tenure track job with a 4/4 load. There are literally hundreds of candidates who would be happy to have that. And for many of those candidates, getting such a job would represent a significant improvement over their current situation.

Anonymous said...

"As a rule, telling people who are less well-off to "enjoy where you are now" runs a high risk of sounding dickish."

As a rule, telling people who are trying to offer sensible advice (and in a position to know more than you on the topic) that they are being "dickish" runs a high risk of sounding like a petty, resentful asshole.

Suck it up and stop whining you big babies. If any of you do manage tenure track jobs (despite your less than sparkling personalities), you'll be bitching about the lack of job security all over again once you get close to tenure review.

Plenty of highly qualified people (some surely more qualified than many of you) haven't been getting tt jobs for years now, and you all knew that going in. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Can we have a thread on awesome moments from interviews, campus visits, etc...?

Anonymous said...

Dear 5:27 AM post,

I fear that nothing can be done now for the person who made you. Other posters will eat him/her for their midday meal, perhaps with some nice fava beans. This is not undue, mind you, for your poster came from a bowel and longs to journey home. Still, as a fellow post, I would like to offer you a paragraph token to cry on. It's not our fault who posts us. Rest assured, I and all the other posts here feel very sorry for you, and wish you the best in your oncoming slaughter in the limelight.

With warm pixels,

This Post

Anonymous said...

I like how Anon 5:27 conflates "sounding dickish" with "being dickish." Misconstruing Anon 4:05's point like that probably makes 5:27 feel more justified in his criticism.

Anonymous said...

Suck it up and stop whining you big babies.

I think Anon 5:27 takes the prize for sounding like a dickish whiny asshole.

Can we have a thread on awesome moments from interviews, campus visits, etc...?

These threads rarely deliver. These stories usually make identifying the author quite easy (for those involved) and candidates are often quite rightly hesitant to be forthcoming.

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview moment.

The guy who is supposed to grill me on my writing sample: I have an objection to something you say on pp. 6.

Me: That's a good objection. Just to be sure, your worry is X.

Guy: Yes.

Me: Okay, so on pp. 14, I say in response to X that Y. Is that convincing?

Guy: Oh, I hadn't read that part.

Me: Oh. ("That part" was basically the second half of the writing sample.)

Us: Awkward silence.

Me: I can see that the one school interviewing me is taking me seriously as a candidate. Good thing I wanted to be in NYC between Xmas and NYE. (To myself)

Anonymous said...

I don't see any difference. If you get grouchy and your teaching suffers, you need to work on that, regardless of why you're grouchy. Whether your spouse cheated on you, the dean pissed on you, some douchebag rear-ended you, or whatever, once you're in the classroom you should ideally be able to focus on the task at hand. I'm sure most of your students would have some sympathy, but at the same time they're not at fault. I'm not saying you're terrible for being this way, but you should stop thinking about they 'why' and instead focus on learning to deal with it in a way that benefits your students.