Sunday, October 5, 2008

Safe inside the "Ivory Tower"

While it might be a bit of a stretch to equate the rusting hulk of the Berg Instructional Center (pity poor Mr. Berg for having his name attached to this monument to horrible 1970's "architecture," with its ugly rusting walls and lexan windows rendered utterly opaque by degradation and rivers of rust) with the ivory towers of learning, nonetheless, it is a place of learning, albeit at the lower end of the spectrum of higher education. I like to tell people when introduced to them that I am very familiar with the lower reaches of higher ed. And, being so, the college is largely insulated from the horrors that a plummeting economy visit upon people in the real world, as Dulcie likes to refer to everyone else; college professors do not live in the real world.

It is largely true, as scarcely a whisper of the recent panics on Wall Street filtered into my soulless square of a cubicle that passes for an office. Indeed, on the latest Black Monday, I arrived home blissfully unaware of the disaster; Dulcie rolling her eyes in scornful disbelief at my ignorance.

I'm sure the protection afforded us teachers is partly responsible for the hatred that many of the community apparently have for the profession. A letter in the Daily Herald regarding the publishing of the salaries provoked an astonishing vitriolic torrent of abusive "discussion." Notable among the posts was the hostility of some towards teachers ("Head of the Family" in particular, anonymous coward): how we are only interested in working as little as possible for as much as possible. Having spent the best part of a Saturday without receiving a cent of compensation, not to mention the weeks in the summer working with my research students for next to nothing, I am not entirely in agreement with this viewpoint of the teacher; though I can think of a few that might qualify - where art though football guy?

While for most, the daily rumination revolves around whether or not their employer will weather the storm, for the COD faculty the current crisis is the modification of the reading requirement - a decision made without their full consultation, blessing and consent.

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