Being a Stupid Slut

When I was a teenager, many years ago, my boyfriend’s roommate had a girl he used to call regularly for sex. He would wake up in the morning, and without even leaving his bed, he would call her if he felt a bit horny. She would come over, walk up to his room, they would have sex; and, then, he would manufacture a reason that he had to go somewhere, and she would leave alone.

One day, I overheard him in conversation with a bunch of his male friends, recounting a conversation he had had with her.

“She asked, ‘How come we only date in the daytime?’,” he said.

There was an explosion of laughter in the room.

“Date in the daytime! That’s classic!” said one of his friends.

“She’s your ‘day-time date’!” laughed another.

“Daytime Date” became the name they all called her ever after.

“Somebody should just tell her, ‘Dumb-ass, you are a whore,” said a third guy.

“She’s not even a whore,” said a fourth. “She’s just a stupid slut. Whores get paid better.”

Fast forward several decades. I’ve been an adjunct professor in the Philadelphia area for over 15 years. Adjunct. Contingent. AdCon. Part-time. NTT. Lots of names are used for what I do as a precarious wage-laborer in the edu-factory that used to be academia. Two days ago, I took part in an all-day student evaluation event at one of the universities where I have co-taught a capstone course for three years. At the end of the semester, my co-faculty, a part-time member of the department (I am the “writing consultant” and therefore even more unconnected than she), was told in a very roundabout way that she would no longer be teaching this capstone course.  The chairman of the department simply offered her a list of courses and said, “Which would you like for next year?” The capstone course was not among the choices. She was angry about the way she was told. I wasn’t told at all. We continued to teach out the semester, devoting scores of hours to our students and their projects. This full day of evaluations was the culmination of all that work, where all the students from the program presented their projects to the faculty, advisors, and outside critics. From 8 a.m. to nearly 7 p.m., we met with each of the students, reviewed their work, evaluated them. At the end of this very long day, all the students were called back into the great hall, and everyone gathered for a final farewell. It was during this time that the chairman of the department called another member of the department’s teaching staff to the podium. She delivered a speech about my co-faculty, my partner in the class I taught. She spoke of how valuable her contributions to the department were, how although she would no longer be teaching the capstone course, her work in that area had been invaluable. Her students loved her. The department would always be grateful. Then they presented my co-faculty with a bottle of wine. Everyone clapped. Including me. During this whole happening, I stood there, feeling the eyes of my students on me, feeling mortified at my exclusion, with a plastered smile on my face, and a stiffness to my body born of steely determination to preserve some dignity.

At the end of this event, I walked out of the building, alone. I decided to walk home, nearly 2 miles, down Pine Street to the Delaware River. It wasn’t until I was a few blocks from the university that I was able to breathe. And with the breathing came the pain, a sharp kind of stabbing pain in my heart chakra.

“Admit that you are hurt,” I said to myself. “Feel it.”

I kept walking. Feeling it was somehow easier if my legs kept moving me forward. My eyes welled up. I kept walking, wiping the tears away. I felt sick to my stomach from humiliation and mortification.

“Feel it, ” I kept saying to myself. “Feel it. You are allowed to feel it. You have to feel it.”

And then I remembered the Day-time Date. For years, I’ve thought of myself as an academic whore. But I realized, on that walk down Pine Street, that I am not even a whore.

I am academia’s stupid slut.

I arrived home. My body hurt so badly that I simply changed to comfortable old clothes, poured a glass of wine and climbed into bed. The sun was just setting. There was a chorus of voices outside my window – revelers on South Street, joyous and laughing. I closed my windows and willed myself to sleep. It was the only thing I could think of to do.

Waking early the next morning, the first thoughts were of the experience. The next thoughts were ones of gratitude.

“Finally,” I thought. “The crack of the Zen Master’s stick. There’s no turning away from this.”

Yes, I’ve had humiliations before. Yes, for years I have known how little my efforts and dedication are respected. But they’ve been private mortifications — often between me and some departmental “course assignment” person. This event, yesterday, was the most public humiliation I have ever experienced. You can’t pretend after that. So I acknowledged it. I opened myself to feel it fully. But, with the dawning of a new day, I also felt gratitude about the clarity of the lesson.

I believe in the power of positive thought, yet have failed to find ways to apply those practices to my experiences in adjunct academia. This clarity gives me a day-glo red sign of what I do NOT want. It is a moment of pivoting. What DO I want? That’s the next step, isn’t it — to define what I want in a way that I can energetically work toward. I knew I had to look for experiences in my life that provided examples of the respect I want. And in that very next day, I had the experience I sought.

I have a small, low-budget, arts organization. That next morning, I was working with an artist who also directs a gallery; he helps me hang my gallery’s shows because he is much better at it than I am. We worked for a few hours that morning, and, slowly, the art took shape on the walls. It was a student show — my students. We would have their visual art on the walls, and one of my students, a singer/songwriter, would perform. A student from the Creative Writing MFA program would read her work. I felt a lot of happiness as the evening approached. I prepared the space, set out the refreshments. People began arriving. Students came with their friends and family.  Joy and excitement filled the room. The student who sang did a phenomenal job and got loud and appreciative applause. The writer received a lot of appreciation.

“You are a wonderful woman,” one parent said to me. “Just look at what you’ve done here.”

“This is what they have done,” I said. “I just gave them some encouragement and a space in which to do it.”

“Exactly,” she said. “Which is what makes you wonderful.”

I walked home from the gallery after the event ended. It was pouring rain. Lightning flashed across the sky. I got soaked. I was full of joy. Two days. Two entirely different experiences stemming from the loving efforts I put forth. One, the experience like that of sleeping with someone who has disdain and disrespect for you. The other, the experience of giving and receiving joy and love, being uplifted by a human exchange. Which of those experiences do I want in my life? I choose day number two. Of course I do. We all do. So how do I apply these practices of positive empowerment to creating a life where day number two is my reality and day number one recedes into the distant past? I want to work with young people. I want to teach, to educate, to interact with other people. I want to support and encourage new art, new creativity, new thinking. I want to do it joyously and successfully. I want to have “right livelihood” and a life of abundance and well-being. I want us all to have that. With so many conversations about the negativity of our experiences in adjunct academia, we may very well be re-enforcing more of the same.  At least according to those who believe that “you get what you think about”.

As an individual, I want to begin consciously shifting the focus, now that I have had such a powerful experience of what I do NOT want, to what I DO want. How do I do that? And then, by extension, how might I provide some perspective on how we do this as a population of scholars and educators? We have great power, great positive influence on the world. The question now is, “How do we stop being the ‘day-time dates” of academia and honor ourselves? How do we honor the love and dedication we give in such a way that the results of our talents is a powerfully positive one?”

First, stop answering that telephone call and delivering ourselves up to our own mortification. Second……? That’s where I am now. Yes, I’ve been here before. But I’m back with more determination, armed with both the worst and best experiences of my recent life.

Since we’re about to head out on the road with the documentary, I welcome a conversation about this — and invitations from others who might want to have this conversation as part of our film. We can certainly document the suffering; there is plenty of it. But can we begin now to deliberately contemplate ways of shifting this paradigm toward a new and positive reality?  I’m not talking about unions, or legislation, or walk-outs, exactly.  I’m talking about the kind of energetic shift that creates new realities.  Like the day the Berlin Wall came down.  It was as if the entire reality of East Berlin, of East Germany and its military, just melted away.  People tore at the wall with tools, with their bare hands; and then, the wall was gone.  When a large enough group of people stop believing in their own oppression, stop accepting it as reality, enormous change takes place.  I remember that day.  I remember being stunned at the new reality that was taking shape right before my eyes as I watched the television screen.  That’s the kind of shift I’m talking about here.

Oh…and whatever happened to that poor, disrespected girl from all those years ago? I found her on Facebook. She’s a happily married woman. A mother and grandmother. She looks glowingly beautiful and satisfied with life. I am overjoyed to know it, and ready to follow her lead.  All sorts of possibilities await.

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33 Responses to Being a Stupid Slut

  1. VanessaVaile says:

    I too think we need to take matters into our own hands, take charge of our teaching, teaching situations, form our own institutions, not count on the kindness of strange administrators (extreme oxymoron!) or others to do it for us.

  2. Ana M. Fores says:

    I always love reading your blog! Always wonderful and inspiring: and the Berlin Wall–a great metaphor! Yes, let’s take it down…

  3. Thank you for writing this, I understand and applaud you and your work. I too am struggling with a love of teaching vs. how many times am I willing to let them fill their pockets/budgets/stadiums at my expense and on my back. I am unhappy that academia has come to this and that being a well-liked, hard-working instructor, means nothing to anyone but the students.

  4. biggkhalil says:

    Thanks for this. Really. This speaks to both where I am right now and where I need to be. Right now.

  5. Nelson H. says:

    You had me locked in until the contrived reference to the Berlin Wall. The piece would feel far fresher and less flippantly anti-communist if you used Tunisia or Egypt as the example. ‘Cause frankly, adoption of Reagon-era ideology isn’t going to get us out of this

    • Nelson, I’m not sure what you mean by “flippantly anti-communist”, since there was no reference to communism specifically, just a reference to a mass illusion being dissolved. The Berlin Wall wasn’t a contrived reference at all; it was a memory of my own astonishment at this event, and how suddenly a paradigm can shift. I’m no fan of Reagan, by the way, and am certainly not adopting his “ideology”. As for Tunisia or Egypt, we don’t know exactly where these revolutions will go yet; there is still a lot that must happen before we see whether or not these are solid shifts. The re-unification of Germany has withstood a generation now. We can see some kind of permanence in that shift. My point is that any system kept in place by fear and a sense of helplessness can only maintain its power for as long as the subjugated people continue to act in fear and helplessness.

      • Catherine says:

        It was obvious you were relating your own experience, not just being PC. Your critic is coming from his own agenda.

      • Catherine says:

        Everyone sees the world through their own eyes. Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. What they say, what they do, and what opinions they give, are based on feelings and beliefs within their own minds. To take it personally is the maximum expression of self-importance. It is not about you. Remember Who you are. -excerpts from Ruiz

  6. Adjunct Inc. says:

    This is an extremely sad story. Still, at the risk of insensitivity, I have to ask: what exactly did you expect to receive from doing this intensive bit of extra work? As an adjunct, I’m not opposed to doing extra work, but I think one needs to decide what their purpose is. If it’s to help students, great; if it’s for the sake of institutional (or departmental) approbation, not so great. And if both goals are in play, well, your post clearly outlines the results. The students benefited, as did the department, but you (and in a way, your colleague) were left in the cold. Did you honestly expect a different end?

    The first rule of adjunctiing is “never offer more services or effort than the minimum required for the position.” It’s also the second, third, fourth, and fifth rule. To use your sexual metaphor, the most they will get from me is some passive missionary sex. No blow jobs, no pussy eating, no anal, no doggie style or reverse cowgirl, just no, no, no, hell no. Do right by the students, be responsible to the students, but do so within the parameters of standard convention, and hold strictly to those standards, and do no more. And if you outline these standards to the students at the outset of the term, I’ve found they will largely accept and even respect them – i.e. you will still get decent evaluations, which is really what it’s all about in the end. Do this, and one can actually thrive and not just survive as an adjunct.

    • First, I would like to say that there is no “thriving” as an adjunct. I don’t accept that as a possibility. It is disingenuous to use such a word, and I would invite others to offer their understanding of what thriving is under circumstances of exploitation.

      Second, there was no “extra” work in what we did. My colleague and I did what was necessary to give the students the support they deserved and needed. This is a capstone course, extremely intense, the result of which decides whether or not the student graduates the program. What you are saying about the “first rule of adjuncting” — offer the minimum — is central to the collapse of our university educational system. You may feel that you are protecting yourself by offering the “minimum”, but is that what you entered this profession to do? Is that what you allow this exploitation to cause you to become? The administration may not notice or care if that is how you function — because their goal is profit, not quality education or student support. But I refuse to allow a corrupt system to corrupt my own values in regard to the way I behave.

      In the making of our documentary, I’ve talked with adjuncts across the country who fall into these two camps — those who continue to offer the best of themselves, and who suffer tremendously because of it, and those who are smugly telling us that they have somehow scammed the scammers by offering as little as possible and are doing “just fine” with that course of action. You say students accept and understand this approach. I say that they don’t know what they are not getting, and are accustomed to being under-supported, to being without mentors, or any kind of real academic nurturing, without even realizing that there was once a better world in academia. A therapist friend of mine once said, “A fish doesn’t know its in water.” In this instance, I would change that and say “A fish doesn’t know it is in toxic water.” Our students are suffering in a toxic environment, but don’t have the big picture — don’t understand the causes of their struggle. Of course they accept what you say. You are the “professor”. They trust you.

      This sort of axis exists everywhere, doesn’t it? There are basically two kinds of nurses, for instance, aren’t there? Those who have hardened themselves and offer as little as possible by way of human interaction, and those who are compassionate and caring and probably completely ragged at the end of each day?

      I guess the question of balance is always the biggest question, and each of us tries in our best way to balance the various factors in our life experience and do the best we can.

      I fully understand how a sense of self-protection causes you to pull back and offer as little as possible. I’ve never been able to function that way. I will have to leave the profession, or find a new way, outside of institutionalized academia, to perform as a professional educator and scholar. In one of my previous blogs, I said that, like those living in an abusive marriage, we adjuncts “stay for the kids” — until we realize that they are being harmed by the situation too — I believe far more than we are. The New Faculty Majority claim is “Our teaching conditions are their learning conditions”. That is pretty clear.

      • Adjunct Inc. says:

        I guess if given the choice to teach or not to teach the “capstone” course as an adjunct, I would likely pass on the course. The exception to that would be if there were more money in it for me, or some other perk like, say, a guarantee that the course will always run and, as long as my evals were good etc., I would get the gig. Short of that, I’d pass on it.

        Turning to another point, I don’t believe that I am “scamming” the system, as you put it. I certainly put in my time and do my bit. However, as a “veteran” adjunct, I’ve also learned how to maximize my efficiency. For my writing courses, whatever the level may be, I have my set of readings, though I’ll add new ones now and again depending on relevance etc. That’s easy enough to do because for writing courses, the readings are usually relatively short and not that difficult. The trick is that I did the work to create the course formats long ago, submitted them to a process of trial and error, cut out what didn’t work and retained what did. And I thank the stars for creating Fox News because when I teach my 101 students about the rhetorical modes of persuasion, I send them there – they learn a lot about ethos and pathos, and by the end of the exercise are acutely aware that any trace of logos is sorely missing.

        Is this “scamming” the system?

        In a way, what I did to create my writing course formats I also did for my upper level non-writing courses. The basic formats are set, the “units” are established, and I’ve been doing this long enough that I can often substitute in a new unit while axing an old one without it entailing much work.

        Grading is always the hardest part and certainly the most time consuming. For this reason, when it comes to writing courses, I tend to prefer the lower level “developmental” classes. The reason is that the assignments are never more than the 5-paragraph essay. Say what you will, but I consider it a win if I can get these profoundly underserved students to write a clear, coherent, focused 5 paragraph essay – and all in all, I win more than I lose. Opting to teach owerlevel writing courses is not in my estimation “scamming” anything. It’s more about self-preservation and self-awareness. I’ve learned what I can do and what taxes me more than it’s worth. As for upper level (non-writing) classes, well, in those the grading is more focused on content, which is easier than fixing sentence structure. However, I don’t entirely ignore grammar and sentence/paragraph structure in those assignments. It’s just not the primary focus. Also, in upper-level classes, for a variety of sound reasons I’m a big fan of the two-page response essay: (1) they’re easy to grade; (2) they really do help students clarify their ideas; (3) they often become the basis for the students final essays.

        Is this “Scamming”? I don’t think so.

        I work within a system and reality I did not create, nor that I wanted, but it’s the hand I was dealt. And so I make the best of it. Outside of academia, I have an artistic job. It pays, but not well enough to live off of, and so academia becomes the much needed, and well protected “day job.” I used the word “thrive” in my original remarks because all things being equal, my day job beats doing data entry. I still get to talk about difficult and weighty topics, my intellectual life is not empty, and I make a lot more money doing this than I would in some low-level corporate gig. And then at night and on weekends, I get to do my art. Adjuncting in academia makes the art work possible. I doubt I could do as much as I am able to do artistically if I were working outside of academia. In fact, I’m sure of it. Corporate jobs tie one to a desk for 8 hours straight, and in the process slowly but surely grind the soul into mush. As I noted, my “day job,” such as it is, is still more interesting than being a cubicle jockey. Hell, I’ve even created ways to combine my art work with my upper-level classes, so I get that as well.

        Now, do I dislike the conditions under which I work? Duh, yes, but I’m powerless to change them. Would I like a FT gig? Obviously. But it ain’t in the cards. There are bad days, for sure. There are days when I look at the FT’ers and realize all too clearly that the only thing that differentiates me from them is a turn of two of bad luck, or maybe it was the wrong choice in socks on the day I interviewed. Who knows? And there are days when I do think about how differently my life would have unfolded had I got the FT job. But I also learned long ago that dwelling too much on these sorts of thoughts amounts to “that way madness lies.”

      • My use of the phrase “scamming” came when talking about those we’ve interviewed who talk about the way they are surviving — and in fact, there was one person who used the phrase “scamming the scammers” when he spoke with us, but then didn’t want to talk on camera. My response to what you said was more about the “giving the minimal amount” idea. Honing a course through trial and error, trying your best to limit the time you spend grading….those things aren’t scamming the system, no.

        I’m in the arts, too — a writer and playwright mostly — and fully understand what you are saying about needing some flexibility in your work life in order to keep the art-making alive. But a generation ago, there were professors in the universities doing just that who had also been given the full-time teaching position, the benefits of healthcare and retirement savings, support staff, offices for God’s sake, professional development support, etc. etc. No matter how you cut it, we aren’t able to function at our own best without those supports.

        By the way, along our tour, we are hoping to meet up with artist/adjuncts and create events that include artist activism on this subject. It is our hope that we can film some of these events as part of the connective tissue of the documentary – a way to talk about how we are making art to communicate and, let’s hope, change, the perceived “realities”. So if you are interested in lending a hand in your area, please email me at junctrebellion@gmail.com and we can make that happen! We’re about to hit the road, around May 19, for the first stretch of the tour. But we’ve got other times during the summer planned to head out again.

      • darthvadersmom says:

        Excellent response. Thank you.

      • angelynnking says:

        There are two kinds of administrators, as well — the ones who think it’s all about them, who make everyone’s lives miserable and have no trouble moving up the ladder, and the ones who realize it’s about the work, who burn out in three years and either retreat, retire, or quit. What can we do about this dichotomy?

  7. drihtengled says:

    This is really well-written, and helps to put into perspective a choice all contingent faculty have to make, in the end. If you’re not getting what you need and what you want, you can find something else to do. That’s not to say it’s an easy choice to make, but it is our own choice. Maybe if enough of us make it, we can end the overpopulation that makes this kind of treatment possible.

  8. darthvadersmom says:

    Where will “enough of us” find what we need and what we want at this point? Reality does not support this suggestion in our country today. We are Adjunct NATION–not just a few unhappy souls. We are prepared for a workforce that is actually extant. The students are there. The classes are there. And the problem is not the adjunct/ntt/ whatever we wish to name ourselves–it’s compensation that isn’t being delivered by a system that has undercut tenure. It’s not GOING to undercut tenure. It already has done so. Adjunct groups that promote organization of those who are isolated by the system as it stands are our hope and the future of academia. Forget going elsewhere. For folks who are invested and for those who are not, there isn’t any place to go. The very folks who will benefit the most from our organization are the ones who have learned to ignore us–tenured faculty.

    • I agree, Karen, that the need for our abilities is there, the students are there, but our role in the university has been deprofessionalized. Somehow, although we provide the most crucial supports to our students, we have become low-wage contract workers. You’re right that it isn’t as though we aren’t needed – that we are somehow superfluous, or there are too many of us. As I’ve said before, it is that we’ve become victims of corporate colonization. Our world has been over-run against our will.

      Can you imagine what our lives, and the lives of our students would be like if we were suddenly able to break free? to earn enough to teach at ONE university and devote ourselves to our scholarship and our students?….to teach courses in our areas of specialty instead of being stuck, like McDonald’s workers, teaching administrative-designed repetitive “common syllabus” classes semester after semester? Imagine what the course selection lists would look like for the students. I remember how excited I used to be each semester, reading through the fat course selections, seeing all the new courses being offered by my favorite professors. In my fantasies of how I would transform this situation, I imagine firing all of the administrators, slashing the president’s salary and perks to 1980s levels (even fully adjusted for inflation, that is still plenty of money), having faculty take full control of governance, re-establishing full-time faculty positions with professional pay and benefits, and allowing the full flower of all our areas of specialty to be offered to the students. I believe that within a year, the joy level on campuses across the country would skyrocket, as would “retention rates” and the quality of learning. If we got rid of the managerial glut and those bloated salaries, we could pay faculty a professional wage and still save money. If we returned to the concept of education as a social good, and discarded this corporatized model, we’d realign and rescue our real values.
      Yes, the world has changed, and no, we can’t roll it all back to the 1970s and start over. But there was plenty of good about academia then that should be rescued and updated for this millenium. We’ve seen where the last 35 years have taken us, and I’ll paraphrase Faulkner here and say, “Sometimes you’ve got to go a long way back to take one step in the right direction.”

  9. VanessaVaile says:

    Wow, Debra, this topic is really taking off ~ shows the value of getting their attention by any means possible. Now direct them to the Tour (yes, related – VERY) http://junctrebellion.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/the-homeless-adjunct-tour-is-announced/ and Activism through Art, http://junctrebellion.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/activism-through-art/

    • Thanks, Vanessa. Yep, we should tell those of you who don’t know that we are starting the first leg of The Homeless Adjunct documentary tour next Saturday,May 19. We’ll be heading west from Philadelphia, stopping in Pittsburgh, then to areas of Ohio, and then on to Chicago. We’ll probably loop back a little further south and hit Kentucky and West Virginia on the way back to Pennsylvania. I’m spending this week and next scheduling our events and activities, and welcome hearing from anyone who would like to take part. Join us, invite us to your hometown, contribute some of your own creative work to our acts and activism events (even long distance — you can send a poem or story, for instance, and we’ll read them FOR you!) We’ll be filming interviews and other footage, screening some of our interviews and clips, and holding events wherever we go. You can write to us at junctrebellion@gmail.com to express interest in taking part. Our other trips will take us north to New England, and then into the southern states along the east coast. We’re hoping to have some fundraising success so that we can get out to the Southwest, too! So, join us in any and every way you can — this is all about building community, networking, raising awareness and maybe a little hell while we’re at it. Coming together to decide our future and the future of higher ed, because yes, we are the ones who have the power to do that.

      • VanessaVaile says:

        Ooohhh… ways to participate. I really like that. I’d been thinking about doing what I can to facilitate following on line, get other parts of the country pumped about inviting you and Chris. I’m going to post that idea and ask for suggestions. Could adjuncts send video clips, say from mobile phone webcams, introducing themselves to their distant colleagues that you are visiting? Make it a national coming together happening?

  10. GREAT idea! Yes! We could put them up on the ‘Junct website, too, if they are comfortable with that, and make a collection for a Youtube channel, where we plan to video blog our sojourn. This could be really, really wonderful. They could also record themselves reading their poetry, or playing music, sharing their art on this subject matter. We are wide open to all possibilities because we love the idea of connecting in every possible way.

  11. Rhonda Filipan says:

    Thanks, Debra. This is such a raw, honest post. It brings back some painful memories of the times when I taught part time. I, too, like the Berlin Wall metaphor at the end. We met in D.C. (NFM Summit). I’m the person who is writing a dissertation on contingent faculty as grassroots leaders in higher ed. I choose this topic because (as you say so well in this post) there are too many “conversations about the negativity” of ajunct life. Looking forward to reading more!

    • VanessaVaile says:

      I agree about the conversations of negativity” (even if or perhaps especially because I end up reporting so many), which is why I am so looking forward to the Junct Tour being an on the road happening that draws out and brings together contingent faculty. Double yes to your dss topic and our being grassroots leaders in higher… a good start with the Tour

      • Rhonda says:

        Thanks, Vanessa! maybe I could interview you, too?! Interested? You are such a prolific writer on this topic…..and using your voice to advocate for contingent faculty members equals grassroots leadership (according to the definitions, etc. that I cite from in my diss.)

      • VanessaVaile says:

        sure ~ and better we talk with one other than let media or professional organization set the terms and conditions of conversations

  12. mariashine says:

    Passing through Cleveland soon? Would like to meet you. I was sitting outside with a student this semester and he asked me what I felt when I am in nature (which I thought was a very perceptive question). He was interviewing me for a project. “I like to watch things grow,” I said. His genuine response: “That’s a perfect answer from a teacher!” We sometimes operate under tremendous course and grading loads and difficult personal circumstances. What about our growth as teachers? A little validation doesn’t hurt. I felt the pain of your lack of validation in this essay. And I felt the joy of the creative work — helping others blossom in a space you protect. (Much like teaching, by the way.) Do what feeds your spirit, in the classroom or out of it. All the best and thanks for this thought-provoking post.

  13. Hope we can meet when you pass through Cleveland! As I read, I was saddened at the validation you did not receive after hard work and dedication and enjoyed the other story — about creating a space for artists — because it reminded me so much of, in essence, what teaching can be at its most inspired: Cultivation of a sacred, productive space.

    I hope that your wishes, expressed so well, are achieved .. “to teach, to educate, to interact with other people….to support and encourage new art, new creativity, new thinking.” Good luck!

  14. Pingback: Are Universities Learning from Wal-Mart? Adjunct Welfare, Tuition Fees & Budget Cuts | Melanie L. Marshall

  15. leesparrow says:

    Dear Fifteen Years Adjunct,
    I have been an adjunct and tutor for fifteen years also. I believe it is a hidden crime to keep leading adjuncts on who have been there long enough, depending on their ages, to at least want to retire in the not too distant future. I have not thought about retiring, if I could, until the last couple of years. We work as hard or harder than our tenured colleagues and though mine are essential well-meaning, sometimes I feel like they forget, I’m also disabled, even though to look at me, most people would never know unless I had a stroke right in front of them. I had a series of minor strokes over about ten year period. I was teaching, faithfully, loyally and even joyfully despite the fact that I felt like was dying and would die soon or commit suicide if I couldn’t find a decent health clinic that would treat and help heal an uninsured, shall we say, victim of the new, but getting old system of deconstructing and destroying academia until it too just dies because nobody cares about critical discourse, creative explorations, and falling in love with a poem or two and not worrying about status, money or how much anyone could be worth in terms of some terribly superficial crap instead of what it means to be human, to play music, to ask questions about life and death. . . . Yes, I know, I do tend to go on, but I believe you and most other adjuncts and those who can “feel” our sadness, disappointment and fatigue as well as realizing how much we give and how little we get–not just not get but feel like we are almost prostituting ourselves the way some geniuses feel prostituted by their tyrannical governments. Still, the upside is I am grateful I can work for what I believe I was and still am called to do, and I keep hoping and thank you for reminding me to keep the focus on our raison d’etre, our students and the great challenges we face all the time. . . . Blessings, “Lee Sparrow”

  16. Hi Debra – thank you for being so open and honest about your own experience. When I started writing “Waiting for Change,” (http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Change-Impacts-family-reality/dp/1469970945/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339641586&sr=8-1&keywords=waiting+for+change) I really had no idea what was happening across the US. But I’m so glad to be meeting all of you through these virtual exchanges.

  17. rattielove says:

    I straight up googled “stupid slut” and stumbled upon a wonderful and uplifting surprise on this otherwise dreary day. Thanks.

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