In response to last Monday’s post (and ensuing discussion on Twitter), I received the following tweet:
"No offense, but maybe you should concentrate less on how to make money off teaching the masses and more on teaching."
I’ve also received a number of comments about how my blog is called “College Ready Writing” while I don’t always/often write about the exact issues the name implies. Now, I understand that the title is important and perhaps a little misleading now, but it’s left over from my old blog and my attempt at starting my own business.
Yes, folks, the dirty little secret has been outed. In 2010, when I was unemployed and miserable, my husband asked what I would like to do. I said, offer a service (for a fee) that actually prepares students for college writing. So he said, do it. I created a website, a blog, and a Twitter presence. I investigated pairing with college admission advisors, targeting high school councilors, and other groups who could direct business my way. Most of the people I spoke to thought I had a great idea and that there was a real need for the services I was offering. Particularly the college admissions councilors knew that the students they helped get into the “right” college were often woefully unprepared, particularly when it came to writing (they did, after all, read and edit their admission essays).
But, alas, the business did not take off. I started it too late (January) in the academic cycle to include my services in any admissions packages offered and couldn’t convince parents that their kids needed the services to begin with. And, I was outside the price range (not to mention social sphere) of students who could use it and were from less affluent backgrounds. When August rolled around and I was offered a full-time teaching position, I jumped at it. At the end of the day, we needed the money.
That’s right, money. Let me say it again because so many of us in education generally and higher education in particular find the subject so distasteful. Money, money, money. I’m not in it for the money, but as the majority of the faculty teaching in higher education know, the obscene amounts being spent on education is not getting into our pockets. I offer a valuable service and have a great deal of education and expertise. I am not paid accordingly. I want to find a way to use my talents, earn a fair wage for them, and maybe change higher education for the better in the process. This is not greed; I do not think I will ever become a millionaire through my work either within or outside of the institution. But I think I deserve more.
I think we all deserve more, students included.
If we, the teachers, are not the ones thinking hard about how to reform higher education, we know very well that there are tons of people who are looking down at us just waiting to tell the politicians how we should be reformed. The micro-issues I face daily in my classroom are a part of the larger macro issues higher education and the education system more generally is facing today. To tell me to stop thinking about these issues (and, how to make more money so maybe someday I can pay off my student loans) is condescending, short-sighted, and insulting.
My brain can hold more than one idea at a time, thank you very much. I will not just “shut up and teach.”
People have asked why I even have a blog here on IHE. I am truly a “nobody” in higher education, and in that I represent the majority of the faculty: forgotten, neglected, silenced, under-appreciated, undervalued. If change is going to happen in higher education, either from within or without, it will probably (hopefully) come from those of us who are teaching the majority of the students, those of us who are off the tenure-track and those on the tenure-track who aren’t academic super-stars, just as anonymously teaching at regional universities and community colleges, doing their research, and doing the best they can.
My desire to be paid what I am worth does not make a bad teacher. Being ambitious does not make me a bad teacher. Caring about the larger issues facing higher education does not make me a bad teacher. Being entrepreneurial (albeit badly) does not make me a bad teacher. Writing this blog does not make me a bad teacher.
I might be a Bad Female Academic in your eyes, but I’m just like a lot of other bad academics out there. And we’re finding our voice.