[Drafted this on October 19, 2006. My resolution is to procrastinate less… 😉 ]
Despite the title, this is not about "ruling" anything. And it’s not about Britain. But it is about Concordia. In part.
Been spending some time at Concordia University recently. As it’s the next place where I’ll be teaching, I tend to think of it as "my university."
I feel as if my enthusiasm for this university will not waver for a while. It really is a pretty interesting place for the type of work I enjoy doing. Not the only place where I can be happy, possibly not even the best place. But I like Concordia and I’m not afraid to say it.
I’ve been thinking about what I like about Concordia. A fairly good example is that today (October 19, 2006), I spent an hour and twenty minutes talking about pedagogical issues with Olivia Rovinescu, director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning Services. Sure, almost any university or college has equivalent services. Some of these centres are actually very useful. But this isn’t about comparison. It’s about satisfaction. I’m getting exactly the type of help I want. As it’s usually easier to complain about what we don’t get than to rejoice at what we do get, I think it’s very important to say such things when we do get good service.
My status at Concordia is quite precarious, at this point. To be very precise, I’m a PTF, part-time faculty. We do have a strong association, which means that we do get better conditions than many part-time lecturers at other institutions, but our status still isn’t anything like full-time, tenure-track professors. Which has a lot of advantages, actually. For instance, we don’t need to do any committee work, we can easily teach at different institutions, we don’t depend on the PTR committee, our research is free of some of the administrative burdens of constant evaluation, we need not know the intricacies of advising bureaucracy, students and administrators see us primarily as instructors/teachers, we can teach before having finished a Ph.D. (or, in some cases, even before the end of the master’s degree), we’re free to refuse teaching contracts without any penalty, and we get a fairly simple point system for professional advancement. On the other hand, we get fewer of the amenities afforded tenured professors and we may not have our contracts renewed year after year (even though some lecturers have become "fixtures" in their departments and can assume that they will regularly get work every semester, if they want it).
[I guess I stopped writing because I didn’t want to go too deeply on the moaning mode. Since then, I’ve thought about different issues and I now see my passion for teaching in a new light. I’ll surely post about that as well as about pedagogical philosophies, Frank McCourt, Radio Open Source on technology in education, my father’s experience as a teacher and educational psychologist, etc.]