Comments on: Is secondary school teaching “giving up on academia?” http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:47:47 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Paul http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/comment-page-1/#comment-869014 Sun, 04 Sep 2011 18:02:19 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16382#comment-869014 As a long time (“career”) adjunct in the Philadelphia area who teaches at a cc, an arts university, and one of the more prestigious institutions of higher learning in the area who teaches courses at every level of the curriculum, (i.e. not just fyw) I not only admire Ms. Roth’s decision, (not to mention organizational skills) I’m utterly envious. I would give my eye teeth for a position like hers. Sadly, whenever I have inquired about transitioning from what I’m doing to secondary teaching, the first wave of reaction is a round of snickering, sort of the “surely you jest” type. When they realize I’m not jesting and am completely serious, the snickering turns to a pained expression on their faces as their heads begin to sway from side to side, “no, no, no, just no …” And when I say ‘wait, 5 minutes ago when we were talking about strategies for teaching Frederick Douglas, you said you were going to “borrow” my idea, and now I’m not qualified?’

I guess this is all to say that I’ve found jobs teaching high school English as elusive as elusive as tt positions, and in some ways more so. So again to Ms. Roth, kudos!

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/comment-page-1/#comment-868975 Sun, 04 Sep 2011 16:45:23 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16382#comment-868975 Having parents who have postgraduate degrees puts you in a pretty selective cohort, Tanya, but I agree: your parents are not academics.

I guess part of the misunderstanding is my fault, as we elided your experience with that of some commenters here & other colleagues.

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By: Tanya Roth http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/comment-page-1/#comment-868935 Sun, 04 Sep 2011 15:49:33 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16382#comment-868935 I’m confused about how it’s been interpreted that I have “academic parents”. They’re academic in the sense that they both have master’s degrees. However, they’ve never worked in academia – except for the year my mom adjuncted in a community college (aside from that, she’s been a stay-at-home mom for pretty much the past 2.5 decades, and dad was always in industry).

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/comment-page-1/#comment-868140 Fri, 02 Sep 2011 13:46:06 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16382#comment-868140 It certainly seems like a lot of people who have academic parents go into academia themselves–and it has always seemed to me to be a big advantage in terms of their understanding of academic culture & what’s expected of them. (Maybe that’s my assumption because I don’t have academic parents.) I work with three men whose fathers were/are scholars, and it has been a surprise to me to see scholarship (like law and medicine, and the the clergy before them) become a patrilineal inheritance. But Z’s experience offers another perspective from the baggage-and-bullcrap side.

Thanks to all of you who have shared your experiences–WHB, Jan, Western Dave, etc.–like everything, prep school/independent school teaching is what you make of it. Because of this conversation, I’ll never assume that anyone teaching secondary school with a Ph.D. has “given up.”

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By: Jan http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/comment-page-1/#comment-868132 Fri, 02 Sep 2011 13:25:15 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16382#comment-868132 My husband teaches history at an independent school; I teach at a public research university. Neither he nor I think that he has “left academia” though some college/university teachers think he has (and some don’t). My husband is ABD; a number of his colleagues have PhDs. Some publish; most stay active, by reading and attending conferences. My husband’s school pays for him and his colleagues to go to the AHA, OAH, etc. I think that teaching in an independent school — where the students are smart and ambitious, the classes are tiny, the facilities are terrific, and the pay is good — is an excellent option for those PhDs (and ABDs) who love teaching and may be committed to a particular city or region.

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By: Spanish Prof http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/comment-page-1/#comment-868025 Fri, 02 Sep 2011 05:10:50 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16382#comment-868025 You absolutely should rebel,Z, and become a kick ass professor. I know it’s in you, buried. Bring it back!!!

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/comment-page-1/#comment-868021 Fri, 02 Sep 2011 04:45:23 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16382#comment-868021 My father is a full professor at an R1. He always said not to be a professor because it is awful. My mother is a housewife without a college degree and it is because of not wanting to upset her that I became a professor: it’s not like business and so on, because it involves the life of the mind, and it’s not work work, like being a teacher.

How did being the academic’s child make me the semi slacker I am – well academia doesn’t feel like it’s mine. This may be partly because my father was convinced I shouldn’t do it, couldn’t make it, and so on, but it’s also because I feel as though I never left home.

Now, the reason I was willing, myself, to be a professor was that I saw it as a liberal profession like medicine / law. The reason I like it less than I expected is precisely that it is much more like teaching high school than I had imagined it would be — and teaching high school isn’t something I would do given any options at all.

Maybe I should rebel by liking to be a professor, thus going against my father’s professed preferences.

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By: Canuck Down South http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/comment-page-1/#comment-867655 Thu, 01 Sep 2011 06:20:00 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16382#comment-867655 After reading this interesting thread, I just went and read Tanya Roth’s posts on her decision. A small bit that leapt out at me was her comment at the start of “Part I” that she’d grown up with academic parents. I noticed this because I’d recently observed that the 4 people who have just “left” my department, and academia, in the past year (2 before and 2 just after defending their PhD disserations), were all children of academic parents. I realize this is a sidenote from the main issue of this thread, but has anyone else noticed this trend, or is it just an peculiarity generated by the small sample size of my department? I’d be interested to hear how growing up with academic parents factored into both joining and “leaving” academia again.

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By: Geoff http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/comment-page-1/#comment-867605 Thu, 01 Sep 2011 03:16:36 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16382#comment-867605 Lots of great comments here, just have to add that the best feeling for me after leaving grad school was being able to walk into a bookstore and feeling liberated…I could read WHATEVER I wanted and it wouldn’t have to fit into any research agenda or degree curriculum.

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By: Tanya Roth http://www.historiann.com/2011/08/30/is-secondary-school-teaching-giving-up-on-academia/comment-page-1/#comment-867573 Thu, 01 Sep 2011 01:20:53 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16382#comment-867573 Historiann, you bring up a really good topic, and as the person who wrote the original piece, it’s been interesting to read the comments here.

From my end, I think the “leaving academia” sense came from…well, the academic culture of my graduate school. Everyone, from those who offered amazing support and advice to those who were less than enthused, seemed to view this as “leaving academia.” I’ve had professors say things like “If you decide to go back to academia in the future…” and heard the same thing from a journal editor while at the Berks. (There’s always this huge presumption that teaching at an independent school is a temporary gig because it’s not academia.)

I’m a little more than a week into teaching now, and I have to say I’m loving every minute of it. It’s a HUGE change, but I love the energy and the people I’m working with. I’ll be advising Model UN (I think they want me as far from the sports teams as possible…!). I’m teaching 20th century world history and AP US History, plus a section of American Literature. I hope to blog soon about the variations in workload and all that, but that’ll probably be awhile.

I loved the prospects of everything about academia – teaching, researching, you name it. This decision wasn’t about jettisoning the elements of academia I didn’t like. In some ways, it was a matter of circumstance. I wasn’t willing to stick around on a fellowship for another year (a year I didn’t need – and when you’re coming off an AAUW fellowship, I figured an extra year after that wouldn’t make me look better as a candidate). I wanted a job – a career I could really love. The prospect of spending another year or two or three on the job market seemed like…a really bad idea. Grad school is hard enough on someone’s confidence in themselves – the job market last year didn’t make things any easier. Kudos to those who can manage it for multiple years. I could’ve if I’d had to, but finding this position and getting the offer – it was all such a breath of fresh air.

(Research, I suspect, will be something I don’t have time for for awhile – but I am presenting at AHA in January and for the local National Archives branch’s new building dedication in October.)

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