Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Exploited: Here, There & Everywhere

I know, it's pathetic... I just had a fantastic weekend with happy, intellectually stimulating, and all-around wonderful time spent with dear, longtime friends and academic acquaintances all I feel compelled to blog about right now is angsty career issues!?...

But that's one of the things the blog is for me, free therapy! That and the fact that my dear husband, the person I most often talk to, is sick and tired of this subject. He is very understanding, but he doesn't like whining. [sigh] Even if it's "rightful" whining (at least from my perspective).

This post is motivated by the email I just saw in my blog account. It's the second, perhaps the third, in which some clearly uninformed person [i.e. non-blog reader] is pitching content to my blog. Can you guess what they are suggesting I write about? Online education, alternative degrees. The first one was particularly offensive because it suggested that I write about online PhD programs.  Ha, ha, ha!! These folks are knocking on the wrong door! I won't endorse online PhD programs even if they pay me to do it! I mean, in all fairness, there must be some legitimate programs out there, but I'm not so sure. I know "distance learning" seems to be the future of education nowadays, but I'm very skeptical about it, not to say leery of it.

These people pitching content to the blog clearly haven't read this post or this more recent one. Posts in which I look back at my miserable (both regarding the work itself and the pay) "non-work" at an University of Phoenix affiliate (Axia College). Three months in hell, that's what that was for me. My wrath against for-profit education, particularly of the online variety, knows no bounds, that's for sure! I felt intellectually insulted by being forced to use second-rate materials produced by this institution (some of which had typos in them), being constantly monitored by them ["Big Brother" is watching!] and having to deal with, report to and be evaluated by a supposed "mentor" who set me up for failure for scaring me to death in the very first day of my "trial run" by calling me at my house and berating me for not following instructions that were NOT clearly given. (believe me, if there's one thing I'm good at is following instructions). All of that for strenuous work (because I genuinely cared for my students and took time grading their work -- probably way too much time) and extremely  little pay.

That is several years behind me, thankfully, but feeling exploited and "working at the margins" are still at the center of my existence.

This weekend, when I learned how much adjuncts are paid at my graduate institution and the colleges around it (they're affiliated) -- which is DOUBLE of what we're paid here -- I was given pause. I'm teaching 40 students to make the same amount they make for a regular 20-25 student class.

Then, I came back home and my dear husband reminded that this amount is also what HIS department pays here at our institution per class (6K) -- I had totally forgotten that, probably just suppressed the information in my brain so I could just go about my daily work without being too depressed.

I am very happy with the teaching itself, though, and that is 1000% better than how I felt when being exploited by the U of Phoenix. I am also enjoying my interactions with colleagues and the support (financial too) of being able to participate of faculty groups, workshops and symposiums at the university.

There are two things looming in my future, however... the study-abroad program and, more immediately, the "tele teaching" (as I'm calling it). Tomorrow I will go see a class like that in action. I hope I don't get too stressed out after I see it. These extra responsibilities, which in all fairness shouldn't be asked of a "non-employee" like me, make me feel exploited, and I know that within the next semester/year I will take action about it (i.e. talk frankly with my chair. I need to do it it the most political way possible since my situation is pretty good, but still precarious. I have a feeling it will all end well, but I know I will still have qualms about my institution knowing full well how they exploit contingent faculty.

Sigh... it doesn't feel very good to be part of a group that is exploited, here, there... everywhere. :(

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