Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Problem With Colleges in a Nutshell

Okay, not completely, but this story is an real idicator of quality problems in higher education:
The study finds that the majority of new faculty feel unprepared to do their job, with women reporting lower levels of confidence in their abilities than men. Furthermore most faculty are working for pay outside of their institution, earning between $6-15K per year to supplement their approx $50K 9-month base salaries.

Let me just say : No surprises here! When I landed this very sweet job at Wisconsin, having just graduated from the highly-regarded sociology program at U. Pennsylvania, I arrived and immediately felt as incompetent as I've ever felt in my life. On a daily (hourly) basis I found myself thinking (saying), "I have NO idea how to do this. I can't do this. I'm terrible at this. I'm going to get fired..." I felt bad for my first class of graduate students, most of whom could tell (as their later evaluations revealed) that I hadn't a clue how to teach. In fact, it was my first class ever, since I spent my time at Penn wisely building the research portfolio that enabled me to get a job at a great school like Wisconsin. I never TA'd, and most certainly never taught a summer course-- I've still never taught in the summer actually-- since I was socialized to understand the importance of grant-writing and publishing, relative to those other potential activities.
If it happened to this one professor, how many others have this problem and how does it impact teaching at the college level.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a former college educator myself, let me just say you are not the only one who felt overwhelmed the first year teaching.

First. Universities are primarily concerned with their professor's publications and teaching credentials, actual teaching skills is of secondary importance.

Second. In the educational department itself, there is far too much emphasis placed on theory and far too little on practical teaching skills. More Labs and internships Less Advance Sensitivity to MultiCulturalism.

Third. Make schools more competitive and then schools will find a way to prepare teachers to actually teach. School vouchers, end teacher unions, more standardized tests.