Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Hi, I'm the haiku-writer and wasn't at the meeting yesterday. I'm sure a thorough process of elimination would enable you to figure out who I am. Anyway, I DO use KK wants to get rid of it, but I find it exceedingly helpful. I'm really looking forward to not accepting my assignment next semester, especially considering that might end up being a thing of the past.

You've nicely told us that we're spending too much time grading. Two things about this: 1. We were never trained. I came here and was thrown into a classroom at 22 years old. I only learned by trial and error, and lost my health and any vague semblance of a personal life in the process. 2. Also keep in mind that not everyone in the dept is teaching two sections of 20 students. I teach a lecture course at the 300 level. Many people commenting here have a similar assignment. Grading anywhere from 45-90+ students can and will take you 35 hours a week. I'm grading midterms right now, and they are a minimum of 10 pages per person. I'm doing this on top of reading and preparing lesson plans on Foucault. Trust me when I say that a 300 level class involves a great deal of prep time, as I'm dealing with senior English majors who expect challenging reading material and stimulating lectures.

In terms of next semester, many of my colleagues were assigned one section of 45 students as an upper level course, plus a 20 person Eng 115 (plus a Rhet 245 1 credit course). This is going to be an absolute time-sucker, and there's no way any of them are going to get their dissertations written. They have to prepare for two+ different classes, one of which is writing-intensive, the other being reading intensive. Between preparation for 2+ courses, grading 65 papers, office hours, writing 3 syllabi, and actual time spent in the classroom, this will amount to 35 hours a week, period. This would be fine, if we weren't STUDENTS. Writing DISSERTATIONS. Finishing EXAMS. And then, navigating an abysmal job market. Time IS money, and I don't mean these pathetic stipends, or the even-more pathetic paycheck adjuncts receive after 'failure' to finish in four years.

The tough-love approach I've seen featured all over this blog is the 'suck it up / grad school is hard' simplified nonsense. Of course grad school is hard, but I (and others) want the chance to be an actual grad student. Dear Tough-Lovers, get ready for what happens when you finish coursework. You don't feel like a student at all, and it's because you're not a student. You're someone responsible for writing an exam, an exam that will never been commented on by your faculty advisor. Your advisor likely won't even help you construct a reading list, as I was told to "go look at amazon" instead. You won't see this advisor all semester long, but that's fine, because they'll probably be on sabatical anyway. And you'll go to campus to teach, possibly visit the library, and take the 15 Leroy back to home, where you will sit all night grading. On some dark night of the soul, you first and second year PhD students may realize: I am not a student, and this realization will require an Ativan. Because you're not. You're not a student. You're cheap labor, but you're also getting a piece of paper out of the deal. It'll say "doctor" and no one will give a shit because there's thousands of others just like you, unless your CV has something shiny on it (besides, y'know, the 45 classes you taught) but that is unlikely. We have no professional development here, though perhaps you can be one of the special ones to rise above it all, and have a great future teaching a 4/4 load in Laramie, Wyoming.

So, if anyone wants to say, "you're lucky that SUNY Binghamton prepared you, because you're going to spend a life teaching a 4/4 courseload while serving on various committees," I say: ha. I can thank SUNY Binghamton for this: I am leaving this place and will never enter a classroom again. Yes, I love teaching and I'm damn good at it. Yes, I love research. Yes, I love literature. However, I'm not spending a life teaching freshman comp and/or being an administrator. I will not spend a decade as adjunct. I don't love "the profession" enough to sacrifice my personal relationships for it, either. I cannot, nor will I have a spouse, and a family, and friends, AND a life as an artist if I'm teaching a 4/4 courseload, possibly as an adjunct. Perhaps it's possible to "do both," and maybe you'll be the one to have it all. Maybe, somehow, your CV is the phoenix in all of this. I certainly hope it is, as I truly want nothing but the best for the rest of you (which is why I'm so disgruntled. I think we deserve actual professional development. We deserve a CHANCE to be something other than a lifetime adjunct.)

I began this program wanting a career in Academe. After realizing far, far too late what type of job market they're "preparing" us for (I mean, job market we prepare ourselves for) I will instead sell insurance in Northern New Jersey and hopefully marry into money.

Where dreams go to die, infuckingdeed. At least I still have a chance for happiness in the future. Maybe you do, too. There's always the future.