APADIA 22: The Business of Teaching
A line in this review of a new book on academia, Campus Confidential, struck me.
“While teaching undergraduates is normally a very large part of a professor’s job, success in our field is correlated with a professor’s ability to avoid teaching undergraduates.”
In any business, the more accomplished you get, the less you do whatever it is you got into that line of work for. If you run a restaurant, you’re not cooking. If you’re an executive at a design firm, you’re not designing.
The better you are at what you do, the higher you rise, and the less you do it.
It’s one of the reasons I freelance. I love to write. I did also find managing a team to be enjoyable, but I don’t think it’s my gut passion.
Right now, I would much prefer to be sitting here barefoot at my desk, staring out the window at the trees as I type away (a quirk: I type faster when I don’t look at the screen) than in heels in an office with sealed windows pushing other people to do the work.
I’m good at both. I have the unspeakable luxury of being able to choose. And for this phase of my career, I love that this is where I am.
It does seem a shame, though, that teaching is caught up in this truism about business. That teachers are more impressive teachers the less they teach. If I’m managing a team I can teach my people how to do the work and if it takes them a few goes, it really only is detrimental to us and our efficiency. But you don’t get a few goes to give a student a learning experience. She’s going to be in your class one time, and as we all know, the memories we have of our best and worst teachers stay with us. The stakes seem too high for normal business dynamics to apply.