Calling all Academics: April 2 as the Day for Higher Ed
It's time for a collective counter-narrative to how we are typically portrayed in the media to the general public.
We’ve all read it and clearly we all have an opinion on it. And as much as we wring our hands and see the writing on the wall (they came for the k-12 teachers, and we said/did nothing [and in fact in many cases added our voices to those who would seek to undermine them], and now they are coming for us), we collectively do very little to change the perception that the general has about people teaching in higher education.
And I say teaching because so many of us who are teaching aren’t officially professors. Most of us are not salaried professionals, but hourly workers, being paid for only the hours taught. Because of that, the “other” work that needs to get done in higher education is falling increasingly on the shoulders on those who are “fortunate” enough to be on the tenure track. Yes, we are salaried professionals who get paid an “annual” (but in most cases, nine-month) salary to do a job that increasingly never ends: serve students, do research, reform curriculum, advise graduate students, supervise student groups, sit on committees…the list keeps growing and growing while salaries remain stagnant and 24 hours still remains as the length of any given day.
But you know all of that, you’re here, you’re reading my blog, perhaps regularly, perhaps not. We know what we do. We know what the majority of us are doing, anonymously, thanklessly, and increasingly for lower and lower pay. The arguments and observations I’m making here are not new; I’ve made them here and elsewhere, and so have others, more eloquently than I. So why are we still having this discussion?
March 27, 2012 was the annual Day of Digital Humanities. It’s an opportunity to communicate and share a day in the life of a Digital Humanities scholar. It started in 2009 and this year has over 325 “official” bloggers and countless other participants on Twitter. To quote the Day of DH Wiki,
The goal of the project is to create a web site that weaves together the journals of the participants into a picture that answers the question, “Just what do computing humanists really do?”
We need a Day of HigherEd (hashtag #dayofhighered). While many of us have written posts broadly outlining what we do in a day (and how disgusted we all are by the at best misleading and at worst dishonest portrayal of our work), few of us have ever taken the time to actually record, in minutia, what we do as professors from the moment we wake up to the minute we fall asleep. All the work we do that contributes to our job as educators.
I’m thinking we should do it around payday, so we can also discuss the financial implications of our situation, six-figures or not. How much are we paying monthly for student loan repayments (and how long we have to go before they’re paid back)? How much we have to pay out of pocket to go to conferences because of a lack of departmental or other institutional funds. How much we, too, pay in transportation costs because it’s too expensive to live where we work.
Is next Monday, April 2, too soon for this to go “viral”? I don’t have time to set up a fancy blog site (but if someone wanted to make a tumblr...), but I can create a hashtag (#dayofhighered) and figure out how to archive them effectively by then. I know enough of us have blogs, so you can tweet a link to your “day in the life” post, or if you don’t have a blog, you can leave the outline of your day in the comments of my post on Monday (which I can’t link to right now because it’s not Monday yet!).
If you’ve already written a post like this, or have a post (or posts) that soundly, eloquently, and directly refutes the recent op-ed madness, please leave it here in the comments today. And administrators (that means you, too, Dean Dad!) are welcome to join in as well. I think that there is a fundamental disconnect between what we all understand our roles to be. Let’s truly make it a day of all of higher education, or at least as much as possible.
April 2nd. Record your day. Blog it, share it, promote it, make our voices heard, if only for a day.
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