Friday, April 20, 2012

Bait and Switch

One of the things I'm angry about is the US lack of respect for education. It occurs on all levels -- parents who tell elementary school teachers that they can't discipline children for disrupting class, politicians who tell elementary school teachers that they don't deserve pensions or money for Kleenex in the classroom, politicians who tell the rest of us that educators of all stripes are ridiculously overpaid and lazy to boot since they get summers off, the rest of the public who think that I get summers off or only work 11 hours a week (that's the number of hours a week I am explicitly and overtly "teaching," before office hours or class prep or anything else). I get very mad. I feel disrespected and underpaid. If I am really responsible for nurturing and providing life lessons to America's future leaders, aren't I doing something important?

Like all math professors (and many other people), I'm rather ridiculously educated. All that training was in something other than what I'm doing, though. I'm socializing 18-year-olds. I am providing emotional support, math anxiety therapy, career guidance, and life lessons via being a b*tch about homework, academic honesty, and other annoying encumbrances that come along with college. These have nothing to do with my thesis work or any of the other training I got in graduate school.

Between the emotional drain of an introvert doing a job like this -- talking to people 6-8 hours a day -- and the political and ideological climate in the US, I feel like my head is going to explode some days. I want to bring those Republicans who think I'm lazy with me on my long day at work (more or less 7 am to 7 pm), or even my short day when I try to leave to get home by 4 so I can do some research. I want to have them watch a student with severe math anxiety and an absolutely abysmal high school math education try to learn calculus from an online tutorial with no human assistance. Hah. I want them to try to learn calculus from an online tutorial, actually! I want to hear another speech about the lack of trained and educated professionals in the US and the necessity of higher education and then look at our systems of economic reward and punishment. I'm certainly doing my informational interviews with industry these days: I've got academic jobs lined up for the next school year but after that am afloat. There is no reward in academia but the love of the job... and I'm not sure if it's worth the sacrifices.

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