Re: Open discussion topic - accrimonious debate invited

Stephanie Wilson (swilson@BIGCAT.MISSOURI.EDU)
Thu, 3 Mar 1994 10:30:39 -0600

On Wed, 2 Mar 1994, John Glasscock wrote:

> I believe it is extremely important for grad students to get teaching
> experience. Whowever, there is very poor supervision of grad students
> by faculty, and often they are advised to spend only the most minimal
> amount of time on teaching while devoting most of their effort to their
> studies and research.

I agree that grad students should have teaching experience before they
become professors, but they should be more closely supervised (as should
many professors). Unfortunately, this is not always to the benefit of the
undergraduates. Undergraduates are also paying for top-rate education at
inflated prices-- by which I mean that I paid mucho dollars (approximately
$50 per lecture) to be taught by graduate students for freshmen and
sophomore level courses, and by professors in lectures of 800 students
(one chemistry class I had had 3 lectures of 400 students each= 1200
students on one grading curve)!

For the record, I've also had/heard about professors that: did not have
office hours, because they didn't want to be bothered by students; had
TA's make up and administer final exams while they left town for an early
Xmas vacation; told students that the answers to their questions were in
the appendix of the textbook when the textbook did not have an appendix;
and professors that began courses by telling the students that `he was
not here to teach...they were here to learn (at which point, if I had
taken that particular class, I would have walked out after telling him
that I was not here to listen to him pontificate for $50 a lecture).'

It all boils down to economics: college costs too damn much!
Undergraduates are not getting what they pay for and are unable to get
jobs with undergraduate degrees; graduate students need to take
low-paying, high-output teaching assistantships to pay for their education
so that they do not rack up more student loans that they will not be able
to pay off later because of a poor job market. So it goes.

> On Wed, 2 Mar 1994, John O'Brien wrote:
> The final issue is the downsizing of the social sciences in the
> US, Canada and Britain . . . when student demand for courses in those
> areas has never been higher in some cases. Much of this comes from a
> pervasive budget cutting mania among administrators . . . who save a
> fortune by putting together classes of 400 people, and not paying one
> full-time academic salary to teach them. Let's see . . . 400 divided by
> 20 = 20, at ass. prof. level 20 to a class . . . three classes per prof
> . . . comes out to approximately seven full time faculty at salaries of
> 25-45k plus benefits - conservative estimate - 210,000 dollars a year .
> . . versus under 10k for part-time or grad students. NOT BAD HUH . .
> .it pays a lot of 100,000 administrative salaries. Want something
> constructive done about that . . . we could by collectively refusing to
> put up with it anymore. \

Nice idea, but not economically sound. The graduate and post-doc students
in those positions need those jobs in order to pay for their over-priced
educations and there are more than enough graduate students to fill them
if anyone does step down.