Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The job description I want to see

The job description I want to see



Small to decently large Liberal Arts College or even research university to appoint a Europeanist specializing in the Middle Ages at the Assistant Professor rank. Additional fields in Ancient and Early Modern Europe preferred. Candidate should have a demonstrated ability to teach the Western Civ survey and supervise TAs for the survey. This tenure-track position will require the coordination of the survey and a willingness to undertake a teaching : research load that emphasizes teaching (to be taken into account at consideration for tenure). The person hired will be in charge of ensuring that students who pass the survey will be able to write a tolerable essay, differentiate between primary and secondary sources, and have a rough idea of chronology, historiography, narrative, etc. Graduate supervision will primarily be in pedagogy, and the successful candidate can expect to teach no more than two upper division courses per year (in addition to a graduate teaching class).


Any takers? Really. Think of how even a really strong department could use this -- Someone who is interested and active in scholarship, but is also willing to do the grunt work of making sure that the grad students get some prep for teaching, grading, etc., AND works to make sure that the underprepared undergrads get the skills and the time they need, so that they don't end up getting frustrated and dropping out! G'wan then -- you know you want me!

5 comments:

New Kid on the Hallway said...

What's interesting to me about this is that it seems to suggest two kinds of tracks within a department - "research" and "teaching." I don't know if that's what you meant, exactly, but I always find that distinction kind of dangerous - I think it starts down a slippery slope. Because yes, departments do need people who can do this stuff, and ideally everyone does do this stuff, but I think that if you ended up with a research university creating positions like this (that were explicitly concerned with the teaching/pedagogy stuff), people in these positions would end up as de facto second-class citizens. (I think kind of how English depts. often have adjuncts/temp people do the "grunt" work of teaching comp, so that the "real" faculty can focus only on research.)

Of course, there are lots of departments where this is what's expected of all the faculty.

And I may have misunderstood what you were getting at here!

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Gaar. I think you're probably right. I was thinking of it more in terms of people who have release time to do admin work. And really, I was thinking in terms of one or two positions like this (one in US, one in WC) in a department. But the idea that someone would actually be in charge of making sure that students learn the basics in LD classes so that the people teaching UD classes weren't still correcting basic writing mistakes? And that the heavy research colleagues would appreciate it and consider it a valuable function? I can think of places where that might fly, but not in the US. At least, not at the schools that think of themselves as top rank.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I guess ideally, I would like to see everyone in a department teaching both LD and UD classes. So that if students weren't measuring up in UD classes, it was something that the UD profs would be responsible for, since they're the same people who are teaching the LD classes, if that makes any sense.

Which means that the department as a whole has to take responsibility for making sure that their curriculum does in fact do what it is they intend it to do, and so everyone has to take responsibility for what the LD students are learning.

But again, I say this partly b/c I've only worked at small schools, where everyone does have to pay attention to this b/c everyone does teach the full range of classes. I would still want to see that be the case in a big research place, but I understand that de facto such departments may have a greater distinction between those who teach LD and UD.

I think the problem is that history doesn't have an intro gateway course in the same way that English does - English can have a separate comp division within the department, so to speak, and someone whose responsibility (probably with release time) is to coordinate comp and make sure that it's teaching the students what it says it's going to. But history doesn't have something like this. I'm not really sure it should - again, I think everyone in a department should be teaching the full range of classes and thus paying attention to what's going on in UD and how well it's preparing students for UD. But also I think there's a lot less agreement about what an intro class should consist of and what teaching the basics should consist of (I think you'd have a much harder time, for instance, getting an English department to coordinate an "Intro to Lit/Fiction/Poetry" program to the same degree writing gets coordinated - and history would be more like the lit classes than the comp classes. Again, if that makes any sense!).

Which is not meant to sound negative and a downer - it's just that I'm very cynical by this point about the possibility of getting faculty to police themselves/other faculty in this manner. (Can you imagine having to tell one of your colleagues that students coming out of their classes can't read primary sources??) But then, I've worked with colleagues who resented even having to submit new course proposals to a curriculum committee because that was an insulting infringement on their academic freedom...and whom I doubt would pay the slightest bit of attention to someone who tried (for instance) to get them to change their writing assignments...

(Rambling on a Saturday night! sorry!)

New Kid on the Hallway said...

PS - because I didn't go on long enough already ;-)...

I do see what you mean in the context of a big department at a big school where you have something like a required Western Civ sequence that all students (not just history majors) take (I know someone who taught in such a situation) - in such a case you do need someone who's essentially a coordinator, especially for instance that all sections use the same textbook (which I can see the argument for) - to make sure that sections are roughly equivalent and that everyone's doing roughly the same amount/level of work. It's been so long since I was at a school like this that I wasn't really thinking along those lines initially. But I can only really see it working if the Western Civ/US history sequence is required as part of a general education requirement, less so if it's required just for history majors (I think the presumption in the latter case would be that they should be taking enough history courses overall to learn the skills you're talking about along the way).

Not that I'm remotely an expert on any of this - just making stuff up. I don't want to go to bed yet. ;-)

Another Damned Medievalist said...

I get that! Actually, this comes in part from a conversation I had with a person on the Kazoo thing -- he was complaining about exactly the same problems in terms of wiritng skills and students (and these are majors) not really having the requisite skills in 3rd year seminars. AS lots of the teaching of UG tutorials is by people who came out of the same program hired back as part-timers, there isn't that kind of scrutiny -- although at the upper levels, exams are read by at least two members of senior faculty. It just seemed odd to me that there wouldn't be more of an attempt to make sure that didn't happen, and that people really were up to the work. I actually hope that, if I get a TT job this year, it's at a place where I might be able to work a coordinated studies class that ties a core History class with a comp class. I'd have to find a comp person willing to accept Chicago style as valid, though!