Some Myths About University Professors....
Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 4:18PM
Dave Brodbeck in job, professor, work

The school year is set to start here in North America, and students are gearing up for another year.  So are support staff and faculty.  I have not been a student for quite a while, and I have never been a member of the support staff, so I will talk about what it is like from our side of the podium.

There are a number of myths about profs and our work, so I thought why not write a post about that?  Plus, who the hell are you to stop me from posting on my own blog?  OK, you weren't, sorry....

There are no stupid questions

You might hear one of us say this in a classroom, usually on the first day, to encourage participation.  You know though, there certainly are stupid questions.  Most of us, however, will not make you feel like you asked a stupid question, so ask away.  I have had to, once in my whole career, ask someone (after class, privately) not to ask a question every time a thought came to his head.

Profs don't care about teaching

OK, I hear this one a lot.  "They don't care about us, they just want to be in the lab/library or whatever".  Yeah sure, there are some people like this.  But, in my experience we all like teaching.  Research takes a long time, and the personal sense of satisfaction that comes from it takes even longer.  The sense of satisfaction that comes with telling someone something they don't know, that is an amazing feeling.

Their teacher ratings don't matter

This one is complete bullshit.  I have sat on tenure and promotion committees at two universities, and we always look at evaluations.  We look at student evaluations of teaching along with research contributions.  Teaching will have more or less weight than research depending on the school, but, if you cannot teach, you will have trouble getting promoted and getting tenure.  The same holds true for research.  

He only teaches six hours a week, boy a job where I was paid for six hours would be sweet...

This one shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what we do for a living.  As I mentioned above, we teach, and most of us love it (hell, some people hate their jobs, no matter what they are).  However, we also have to do research (most of us love that too).  We have to do original stuff, sort of like big frakking term papers, but, more involved, and usually more original.  Finally, we have to do soul destroying committee work.  This is a cool job, and one of the things we do is help run where we work, hence the committees.  There are people that like committee work, I don't understand these people (and I'm a psychologist) but, they do exist....

Tenure makes people lazy

Tenure is simply permanence.  We have a probationary period in our jobs, just like any other job.  A typical probationary period at a company might be say 90 days.  Ours is five or six YEARS.  We come up for review every year or two and are told what we are doing right, and what we are doing wrong.  Most of us get tenure, but it is not a sure thing.  Oh, and tenured faculty can be fired.  It has to be for cause, but it happens.  That said, the weeding out process during the probationary period usually ensures that we are all pretty decent at our jobs.  Now are there people that do sweet dick all after they are tenured, hell yes.  They are, however, quite rare.

Anyway, those are the ones I could think of now, ok, back to making up course outlines....

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