Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Why I Love "Setting a Bad Example"
I set a bad example, not only for people who work in education, but for workers everywhere. I love my job. I can't wait to get there in the morning. And it's not because of the money. I get paid decently, but that's not what floats my boat. I could make a lot more money than I do. I have deferred merit increments for the past ten years so my younger colleagues can have a better chance of receiving them and contribute more than half my speakers income to the Bronx African American History to help pay our research staff.
No, what makes me love my job, and what makes me such a subversive, is the FREEDOM. I don't have a boss. I don't even have a supervisor. I can teach what I want, write what I want, and say what I want either inside the university.No one every monitors what I am doing and no one ever observes me. If someone came to observe me without asking my permission, I would throw them out of my classroom. Physically.
The US Department of Education, Middle States Evaluators, and some university administrators hate my having this kind of autonomy. Unable to control me directly, they are trying to assert indirect control by assessing my "outcomes." I fight all incursions like these tooth and nail. I provide as little information to the university administration as possible, and publicly attack any and all infringements on my jobs rights, my freedom of expression, and my commitment to peer evaluation and governance.
But if it was up to most policy makers, people like me would disappear. And they are doing everything possible to try to make sure that a new generation of self-governing tenured faculty are not created. They are assigning more and more college teaching to adjuncts and part time faculty, and trying to water down tenure rights for those faculty who already have them. They claim that our freedoms are a smokescreen behind which "bad teachers" seek cover. And that they have to take away those freedoms to better serve students
But it is not to better serve students that tenure is under attack. It is that workers who approach their jobs with real autonomy and creativity are a threat to a system that thrives on intimidation and micromanagement as ways of extracting "productivity." And in which productivity gains almost exclusively accrue to those at the top.
So at a time when many people are contemplating retirement, I am still fired up with love for my work, and committed to Total Resistance to any incursions on my professional autonomy or freedom of speech.