Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh, whine

A student of mine came by to see me this afternoon. She sat down and just chatted. She is a wonderfully engaged student from my theory class. She said that she'd run into another professor from our department at her workplace in a fabric store, and told this colleague of mine, "You have to hire Hilaire back!!" That was very nice to hear. She asked me about whether I'd be there next year and I told her that because the uni doesn't have TT job in my field that I can apply for, it's unlikely that I'll be back unless I don't get a TT job somewhere else.

Then she said she was disappointed because she'd wanted to ask me if I'd do a Directed Reading course with her next year.

Can I just tell you, it makes me want to cry and scream and stomp my feet in frustration that I can't do this with her.

I know, I know, you're raising your eyebrows - I know lots of you hate and resent directed reading courses. It's probably just because I am not yet jaded, am still full of enthusiasm about most things in this profession...but I love the idea of doing a directed study course with a student I like. The idea of working with her to narrow her interests, collaborating on a list of readings, and having occasional meetings to talk about things - I love it. I actually also see it as a real learning opportunity for me, on a whole lot of different levels. Perhaps this is because I did so goddamned many of these directed reading courses, especially as a grad student - I found them really rewarding. Anyway, boo hoo.

Sigh. Damn, I wish I could stay here.

6 comments:

Texter said...

oh, a directed reading course would be heaven... i'm totally with you. those who are jaded about those sorts of elements of the profession probably should not have entered it in the first place. those are the aspects we should savor - reading for its own sake, deepening one's base in a particular area, curiosity, conversation, ah, heaven...

Dr. Crazy said...

In response to texter, I think that you're wrong that those who are jaded about this issue shouldn't have entered the profession. In my experience, those who are jaded about things like directed studies have had bad experiences of being forced to provide them for less-than-stellar students for absolutely no compensation - sometimes being pressured to do this for multiple students in a semester. This is not in any way the same thing as doing a directed student with a bright, self-motivated student who has a deep interest in an esoteric subject that also interests the professor and that would not be served by a regular course at the university. Instead, this is a way to increase professor workload without compensating professors for that work. (end rant here - it's just that this has been a huge issue at my university.)

That said, Hilaire, your situation in this case is really crappy. It's miserable that you have a student with whom you'd want to work and who would want to work with you but because of the structures of hiring in higher education you can't make a commitment to that student. But perhaps you can be in contact with the student in any case, not leading a directed study but making yourself available to suggest readings and to discuss them - if only via email? I've done that with some students who've graduated and it's been incredibly gratifying to maintain those relationships.

Dr. Crazy said...

er, a directed study, I meant, not a directed student :)

Hilaire said...

Thanks, both. Yes, Crazy, it's too bad this is so totally exploited labour. Frustrating! It should be compensated at least a bit. I think of the people who did this for me as a student and am incredibly grateful, from this vantage point.

I went in to talk to my Chair yesterday about the possibility of doing a course like this in the summer. She discouraged it because of the uncertainty of the summer. But she did suggest that maybe the student has room in her schedule next term. And could do it hen. i'm going to check with the student tomorrow in class. There's still hope!

medieval woman said...

I love directed readings (we called them independent studies) - some of the best work I ever did was in that particular arrangement...

I hope you get to do it next semester!

Texter said...

I don't know the particulars of your situation, Dr. Crazy, so I can't comment directly. I'm not sure what you mean by "less than stellar" student. What I mean is is it the case that this "less than stellar student" is taking a directed reading only to get out of more challenging group courses? If so, that is too bad. But if this "less than stellar student" is genuinely interested in a subject (even if less prepared than a better, more capable student) than I think s/he should have the opportunity to pursue those interests, even if s/he needs more direction and support. I'm working as an adjunct right now, so I know about (under)compensation, but perhaps I have a different understanding of that at the moment.