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  1. #1 This professor hates teaching your children 
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    Here's a tenured professor who hates teaching and has contempt for his students. And he's a recipient of your tax dollars. Think of all the students going into massive debt to learn from this clown. He's all bent out of shape because the students don't want to learn the minute sub-discipline to which he is devoting his sorry life.

    And we're paying for this....

    I Don't Like Teaching. There, I Said It.

    I will never forget the day. I was in my third year of graduate school and had reached a point where I was comfortable discussing things with a faculty mentor. Perhaps letting down my guard too easily, I told him that I was not so sure I liked teaching.

    That was an understatement. My admission wasn't because of a bad episode. And it wasn't that I was experiencing my first taste of burnout (that would come later). Rather, my discomfort with teaching stemmed from the broad experience I was gaining in the classroom. My Midwestern state university required teaching assistants to lead four 50-minute tutorials each week for a large introductory course. I had four semesters of that behind me, and two small courses that I taught on my own during summers.

    I had become aware of just how repetitive teaching can be, of how few students had much interest in the topics to which I wanted to devote my life, of how universities thwart learning in various ways, of how sometimes I was too tired to enjoy a class or was just not in the mood to teach, and of the many pedagogical failures and disappointments that I would face if I continued. The list of cons has multiplied since then.

    The mentor to whom I spilled the beans had won teaching prizes and honors at college, university, and even national levels. His response? He didn't like teaching, either.

    The effect of his remark was liberating. I had been captive to the claim that I would be good at teaching only if I liked it. Discovering that I didn't like it had led me to think that I was not fit for academic life, and that I should leave teaching to people who liked it.

    The connection between enjoying teaching and being a good teacher admits of plenty of exceptions. We all know people who genuinely love teaching but are not good at it. In fact, enjoying teaching because one enjoys the spotlight might increase the likelihood that one is an ineffective teacher.

    I'm certain some readers are thinking: But if you enjoy teaching for the right reasons, wouldn't you be more likely to be good at it? Perhaps that is right. But even so, another attitude works just as well: I don't enjoy cutting the grass, but I do a good job anyway because I care about how my yard looks. Plenty of things are like that: exercising, changing diapers, cooking risotto, doing the laundry, picking up trash. You don't have to enjoy something to do it, and you don't have to enjoy something to be good at it. Do all good writers like doing the writing? Do all of them enjoy it?

    So if you don't like teaching, don't worry about it. You don't have to like it; you just have to care about it. For many faculty members, that's much easier. Reasons to care are numerous: democracy needs more educated and critical citizens; being educated correlates with higher levels of happiness; teaching affects your annual performance evaluations. The list goes on. I chose to write this essay under a pseudonym because the pressure to publicly pledge your love for teaching means that some administrators and colleagues at my institution, having read this, would recall only that I dislike teaching, not that I nonetheless make an effort to be good at it.

    And all is not lost if you have crossed over the line to disliking teaching. It is still perfectly possible to do a good job, even an excellent job. In fact, it probably happens on your campus every semester. The trick is as simple as it is human: Hide your dislike. Effective teaching is, after all, a set of behaviors. What students need from us are clear presentations, careful selections of course material, engaging discussions—in short, the right behaviors. One of those is hiding your dislike. Students don't learn by peering into your mind to see if you are enjoying teaching. Why would it matter to them if you feign it? It isn't a wedding.

    Take grading papers, an activity to which many of use are deeply averse. Don't we often dislike grading because we care about whether our students are learning, and we think they have fallen short? If you were indifferent, you might not dislike grading papers so much.

    The same points apply to other aspects of teaching. Several semesters ago, I found that I no longer enjoyed working with a particular undergraduate. He showed promise in the major early on but soon plateaued and no longer pushed himself to learn more. But I found plenty of reasons to continue to care: He was still learning, he clearly deserved to pass my course, and he deserved the degree. Shifting my attention to those things motivated me to continue doing a good job. And through it all, I hid my dislike.

    Even if liking and enjoying teaching are neither necessary nor sufficient for being a good teacher, I found out some years ago that it is a mistake to not pause and reflect during those times that I actively dislike what I am doing in the classroom. Sometimes I have discovered that I have slid into ineffective teaching. Gripe sessions with colleagues hinder more than they help. I just have to take note, reflect, and shift my attention from whatever I am disliking about a particular course to what I care about it.

    Too often we look at whether a colleague or a prospective colleague seems to like teaching, and then use that as a proxy for whether they are good teachers. We should look at whether they engage in the right behaviors. And for those of us who sometimes find ourselves not liking teaching, let's not feel guilty. There is nothing wrong with not liking what we do. There does not have to be anything debilitating about it, either.

    Sidney Perth is the pseudonym of an associate professor in the humanities at a university in the Midwest.
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  2. #2  
    Ancient Fire Breather Retread's Avatar
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    With all due respect, I did not like teaching those with no interest in learning either. But I was good at it. In the end it gave me a silver dollar sized duodenal ulcer and drove me from the profession. My later teaching was OJT for young geos and eng types who were seriously interested in learning. And that I enjoyed.

    I also did not get the contempt part?

    I would much rather have someone who is good at their job doing it whether they liked it or not. A whole lot more respectable than those guys you noted taking parental leave and using the time to write and publish.
    It's not how old you are, it's how you got here.
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  3. #3  
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    My cousin is a professor of Applied Worthless Knowledge at Georgetown, and he goes on a mess of crap like this article. He is constantly talking about some article he's writing, and we all simply smile and collectively wonder who in the world gives a flying crap about Austrian nobility and their effect on 15th century chamber music.
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  4. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Novaheart View Post
    My cousin is a professor of Applied Worthless Knowledge at Georgetown, and he goes on a mess of crap like this article. He is constantly talking about some article he's writing, and we all simply smile and collectively wonder who in the world gives a flying crap about Austrian nobility and their effect on 15th century chamber music.
    Yes, that's pretty much par for the course with these guys.
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  5. #5  
    Senior Ape Articulate_Ape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Novaheart View Post
    My cousin is a professor of Applied Worthless Knowledge at Georgetown, and he goes on a mess of crap like this article. He is constantly talking about some article he's writing, and we all simply smile and collectively wonder who in the world gives a flying crap about Austrian nobility and their effect on 15th century chamber music.
    I care about it. Ok, that was a lie. I really don't care. I don't give a tinker's damn about it.
    "The efforts of the government alone will never be enough. In the end the people must choose and the people must help themselves" ~ JFK; from his famous inauguration speech (What Democrats sounded like before today's neo-Liberals hijacked that party)
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  6. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Novaheart View Post
    My cousin is a professor of Applied Worthless Knowledge at Georgetown, and he goes on a mess of crap like this article. He is constantly talking about some article he's writing, and we all simply smile and collectively wonder who in the world gives a flying crap about Austrian nobility and their effect on 15th century chamber music.
    Hapsburgs and chamber music? Count me in! Actually, I'd probably read that paper. If he's writing about real history, as opposed to Womyn's Studies or Queer Theory, there might actually be some value to his topic. Popular culture and politics are interwoven, and if the dynamic was the same back then, it could be very interesting. It's esoteric, and narrowly tailored to a select audience, but that doesn't make it worthless.

    The real problems in academia are the proliferation of fake subjects, the growth of college budgets and the substitution of political indoctrination for knowledge. The expansion of federal funding has led to bloated academic institutions that proliferate departments that specialize in fake knowledge, bleeding tuition out of gullible kids (and their parents) in return for worthless paper, while they fight tooth and nail to protect their place at the public teat.
    --Odysseus
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    Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the people!
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  7. #7  
    Power CUer NJCardFan's Avatar
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    It's one thing to have those off beat worthless subjects, it's another when they are a major and a degree. It's those morons who are the ones who graduate and can't find jobs anywhere.
    The Obama Administration: Deny. Deflect. Blame.
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  8. #8  
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJCardFan View Post
    It's one thing to have those off beat worthless subjects, it's another when they are a major and a degree. It's those morons who are the ones who graduate and can't find jobs anywhere.
    History is not, per se, worthless. I just spent a half-hour explaining to a captain that the study of the past is the best way to understand the present and to predict the future. What is worthless is politicized knowledge, where the facts of history are subverted or distorted for an agenda. That isn't scholarship, it's propaganda, and it is worse than worthless, it's dangerous, because it substitutes falsehoods for facts and perpetuates destructive behavior and ideas.

    Of course, I have a degree that is truly useless, at least for my current duties, but that's another story.
    --Odysseus
    Sic Hacer Pace, Para Bellum.

    Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the people!
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