Students Deserve to be Taught by Humane Experts not Counterfeits
Who is really teaching the students? At my previous university, some departments employed students who had not received their Master’s degrees to teach undergraduate students. Most of these graduate-teaching students were only months away from their undergraduate degree, yet, all the same, they were teaching students. But were they really teaching? Did they really know the subject matter well enough to field and help students achieve in a class?
I taught at a small college right after I received my M.A. degree. And while I had spent almost two years studying the subject, my knowledge was lacking. I did not have experience. After obtaining my Ph.D., my classroom teaching was remarkably different. I had my own style. I taught the students a variety of points of view and shared my own views on topics. This cannot happen when departments hire students to teach other students. We are stealing from these students who enrolled in those classes. They deserved to be taught by an expert in the field.
At a recent university, there was a politic on campus to raise the pay of M.A. instructors. Why they had not gone on for a doctorate, I do not know. Their argument was that an M.A. was a terminal degree and equivalent to a Ph.D. and thus, they should be paid as if they had achieved a doctorate? Huh? How much does a Ph.D. cost these days? How many years of study does it take? What sacrifices do you have to make to obtain a Ph.D? Did those M.A. instructors really think that their course work was equivalent to a Ph.D.? Writing the dissertation alone takes at least a year and the knowledge gained in writing that book is priceless.
Well, they made their case and are now paid as if they have obtained a doctorate so they can achieve the status of Full Professor with only an M.A. This is false advertising if you ask me. This political issue really hurts students. Why wouldn’t anyone want to obtain a doctorate and be a specialist in a field of studies? So this policy essentially took away any incentive for these M.A.’s to broaden their fields of study or to improve themselves in any way. Certainly there are talented M.A.’s but students deserve the best, they don’t deserve to be taught by someone who is not a specialist in the field.
Some Deans are assigning online classes to faculty who have no training, and worse, they abhor technology. But they must keep their jobs. So they upload a minimalist syllabus, with a couple of tests and walk away and forget the class. Online classes can be just as dynamic as face-to-face teaching experiences. Online students deserve to experience the same creativity as face-to-face classes, but rarely find it.
And, of course, in research universities students will only see their professor on a podium. We spend our lives teaching students who can’t remember us, nor can we remember them because we teach so many students. We have lost our way. Students are not human beings to the educational system. They are raw material to be processed and spit out at the end of the line. Faculty have become mechanical chisels going through the motions of teaching. The system produces an alienation that has crept through our society.