Wednesday, April 16, 2008

And we wonder why more people don't teach!

If you ever wondered why faculty in higher education sometimes act like they are stuck in a rut? It may be because they are . . .

Where else can you go to school for not less than 23 years (K-12, 4 college, 3 graduate, a minimum of 3 for the doctorate), potentially amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, only to be paid a little better than an auto mechanic of a police officer (not that the technology revolution hasn't made those jobs more difficult).

See the recent release of Faculty Median Salaries - "results of the 2007-08 National Faculty Salary Survey conducted by The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). Figures are based on salary data of more than 211,400 faculty members at public and private institutions nationwide. Salaries were reported by 838 institutions, including 499 private institutions and 339 public institutions."

You'll see that a business professor makes more than an economics professor, and you'll probably wonder why math and nursing professors don't make more than law and engineering professors . . . or maybe you won't. So how do they do it?

From what I've seen, it's either an intense desire to share what they've learned (hopefully by first-hand experience, not just from reading about those from another) or the opportunity to have a relatively steady, full-time position where you only have to work 2/3 of the time. That either allows a bunch of time off for sharing ideas at conferences, traveling the world, or doing something else to make money.

Sometimes plans like the above work, and sometimes they don't, but the potential for feeling like you are in a dead-end job is still there. Many college professors have a variety of classes that they have taught many times to many students. They have the lecture memorized, and if they use multimedia, it's often dated. And then, to top it all off, they get very little thanks from their students, and nothing but committee work and research requirements from the administration.

By the time they figure out that they don't enjoy the work any longer, it's way too late to change career fields (or so it appears), so there appears to be no incentive to learn more or even keep abreast of recent developments. That's when you know you need a break . . . or maybe it's time to retire?

So the next time you see a college professor stuck in a rut, help them get out by giving them a push!

What do you think?

1 comment:

Chester Goad said...

interesting points!