UNITED STATES—While this column may not ring a bell for many Americans, for those who have ventured to college will totally understand where I’m coming from. In college, you encounter many professors, those who are tenured vs. those who are not. You also encounter what is known as the TA or teacher’s assistant. I’ve always believed that professors were the cream of the crop; those with a vast abundance of knowledge just ready to share that information to the masses.
I’ve come to realize during my undergraduate and graduate studies that sometimes the novice ‘professor’ or TA is more driven to really give students the knowledge they crave. I feel a TA has much more to prove and because of that, they are inclined to deliver day after day, week after week, month after month to ensure students actually gain something from what they are teaching. That same sentiment applies for those professors who haven’t quite reached the status of being tenured.
I learned something epic, and I mean epic this year alone, regarding how much money an associate or adjunct professor makes compared to a tenured professor. A tenured professor has a job for life and in my personal opinion that is a major problem. These are individuals who can have a bit of an ego, who care less what students think about them and deliver curve ball after curve ball in the classroom. A professor starting from the very bottom might earn $8k to $10k to teach a course for one semester. Yeah, that might seem like a lot of money, but guess what; it’s not! Especially, when one examines the amount of money a tenured professor makes.
I hate to say this, but I have encountered more lazy tenured professors than actual teacher assistants. Am I saying all TA’s are great? No, I have encountered a few lazy ones in my times, but compared to the elite professors, it’s unbelievable. It’s like when a person obtains a certain level of seniority, they suspect the lazy gene is acceptable; its ok to sit around and to allow someone who is a professor in the making to do all the work so they can have a breather to do nothing, but get paid for it.
For me, I have always considered the potential to become a professor as I have a passion for teaching, but I want my courses to be inventive, fun, exciting and bursting with knowledge; I’m the professor, not the TA or the students, so with that caveat I should always be in control of what is transpiring. I mean right now, I’m wrapping a graduate course, where I feel the professor was virtually non-existent; the students did all the work this semester, which may have been the professor’s intention, but I rather be aware of that beforehand.
Should universities take more notice at their tenured professors? Yes, I do believe so. Even though those tenured professors have jobs for life in most cases, it could be time for them to exit the classroom when their passion to teach is no longer evident. I hate to say this, it’s great to have an ego, but flaunting it on a daily basis and forcing your students to feel inferior to you is not a good sign in my opinion. Treat one as equals and in doing so it provides the opportunity for the student to learn from the professor and the professor to learn from the student.