Monday, July 9, 2012

Contingent Instructors at the College Level

Question: What are some effects of the trend to hire four cheaper contingent instructors for one full-time instructor in composition?

Answer/Quote: “Generally, composition courses are taught by whoever is willing—often unqualified teachers who know more about Shakespeare than the rhetorical triangle. When I was an adjunct, I never thought my position was permanent. I (perhaps naively) viewed my sojourn in the world of part-time employment as a kind of low-paying internship. I juggled the chaotic teaching schedule for three years with the ultimate goal of landing a full-time, tenure-track position. But adjuncting is not a temporary stopover. Many institutions permanently rely on these positions to stay afloat. Teacher are permanently impermanent.

“When a retired, tenured faculty member is replaced with four less expensive adjunct instructors, the shift indicates a fast-capitalist model that may not be easily reversible. The consequences of such an economic model are far-reaching and change both the institution and the people it employs. Fast capitalism is an increasingly familiar model that preys on ‘shock’ and fear to edge out tenure with part-time and contingent faculty. If Naomi Klein’s premise holds, as fear increases during the difficult times, teachers and administrators will notice a shift toward more exploitive economic models and a growing culture of contingency.” P, A14.

Comment: Practically speaking, the growing use of contingent instructors, in college, especially in the teaching of composition, is a disaster waiting to happen. The solidity and unity of the English department is shattered by lack of communication, a lack of sense-of-belonging. The philosophy of the department is splintered. Fair warning! RayS.

Title: “The Political Economy of Contingency.” Sheri Rysdam. Teaching English in the Two-Year College (March 2012), A10-A15.

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