I have one professor who weekly bewails the sad state of my chosen profession. Rhetoric and Composition (Rhet-Comp, in the vernacular of academia) is undervalued and over-administrated in the university. Its teachers are lowly part-timers who must piece together a living by working at more than one school at a time. In short, we would all be better off pursuing careers as refrigerator repairmen, he says.
Now, I am familiar with this litany. In fact, this semester I am repeating this class because last Fall, not amused to hear these pronouncements about my newly chosen field, I dropped the class. Now I am back in it, with more experience under my belt and more respect for this professor's opinions. Now I hear these dire warnings and wonder if teaching college comp is really what I want to be doing after all.
I have no interest in being a professor; my goal is/was only the master's degree and to teach English at a community college.
HSU pumps out writing teachers faster than either HSU or CR could ever possibly employ them, so it's not surprising that this situation exist here: dozens of part-timers set to replace any retiring full-timers; in comp, even the PhDs are only lecturers (the lowest rung of academic instructor, except of course graduate associates).
You don't need to point out that this is absurd, considering how vital writing is in society and especially in academia. Logic of that sort doesn't affect the decisions of educational administrators. Let's just leave logic out of this.
As my cynicism rises, so my tunnel vision dissipates. I see roads opening up before me, alternate routes I can consider, each with a future attached, an alternate way for my story to turn out, an alternate definition of myself! Here are the two alternates (and whatever I decide to do, I will also have this master's degree. By May, it will be earned):
High school teacher: This entire post is apropos of an orientation I attended yesterday, in an experimental mood, for the Secondary Education Credential Program. In a year I could be teaching high school; by next semester I would be in the classroom. I have to jump through lots of hoops, pay lots of money to take lots of tests, no big deal, bring 'em on. But then would come real life, and me in the constant company of sullen teenagers and state bureaucracy, but also summers off and health insurance.
Academic counselor: Interestingly this was my original goal when re-entering college a few years ago, a Pupil Personnel Services Credential. English and writing were irresistible diversions along the way, and even though they are my focus and my love, I find myself doing informal academic advising nearly every day. I have no trouble navigating the academic labyrinth or seeing it in relation to a person's needs and interests. I am 100 percent certain that I can do a better job of it than any adviser or counselor I ever met with. I had been thinking this path was closed to me since I my undergraduate work was not in psychology or education, but I learned yesterday that doesn't matter. I could still do this. Sullen teenagers, yes, but no need to control them en masse. State bureaucracy, yes, but not the kind that interferes with or dictates the teaching dynamic. Summers off and health insurance, yes, yes, yes.
Anyway, all this is what's on my mind lately. Stay tuned for life-altering decisions. Or not.