Thanks for the great reply Steve. I, for one, would love the opportunity to talk about this in a colloquium-style atmosphere! I am especially curious about the budgetary situation - as in, how many classes are currently taught by adjuncts and how many could possibly be available for ABDs to teach? The number seems rather small to my guess but I would love some real numbers on it if they are available.
[log in to unmask]
Dept of History and Art History
George Mason University
President, GMU History Society
----- Original Message -----
From: Steven Barnes <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Sunday, October 18, 2009 10:21 pm
Subject: Re: Some ideas/concerns
> Greetings, all,
> Having had some opportunity to confer with a colleague and
> considering what you have all put into this discussion thus far,
> let me offer a bit of perspective.
> First, the faculty in the department are very supportive of giving
> you some teaching experience if that is what you want, at least
> within university rules. We have not to this point had any
> systematic teaching experience built into the program, since only
> about half of you plan to go into teaching as a career. However,
> Brian Platt and I have discussed the possibility of providing some
> opportunity for more independent teaching (and I hope to offer
> details on this soon). I must emphasize, though, that this will
> be VERY limited.
> The only practical way we can offer many of you experience
> teaching your own class of HIST 100 or HIST 121-122 is to hire you
> as an adjunct once your assistantship money has run out. (Jeremy
> was hired as an adjunct to teach HIST 697 last Spring, and I
> believe has taught HIST 120 in the past in the same way.) The
> thing is that you would only get adjunct pay (about $3,000 per
> course with no tuition remission)--i.e. significantly less than
> you get in an assistantship. So the only practical way this could
> work for you would be to do this at the end of your dissertation,
> when all your research is done and you are just writing.
> I should also add that, while I agree that teaching experience
> during graduate school can be extremely useful in launching a
> professional career in college teaching, it is likely being
> overrated in this discussion as a factor on the job market. The
> quality of your dissertation will matter far more than whether you
> had teaching experience in graduate school. Indeed, most job
> applicants for our own tenure track jobs had only TA experience
> while in graduate school.
> Another factor is how teaching a class might affect finishing your
> degree. Taking an extra year to finish just to get some teaching
> experience at adjunct-level pay may be a poor trade-off,
> especially given that you would be able to find similar adjunct,
> part-time and/or visiting positions after completing the degree.
> My point is that teaching experience is important, but there is no
> immediate need to get it before you finish your dissertation.
> By no means do I intend to discourage this discussion, and we
> shall try to accommodate those interested in teaching as an
> adjunct at some point after advancing to candidacy as long as this
> won't significantly slow up progress toward the dissertation, but
> we are really limited in what we can offer you. But we do
> understand its importance and we want you to know that we care
> about this aspect of your graduate education.
> I hope this will be the beginning of the discussion, and I look
> forward to helping out in any way that I can. By all means,
> gather the data that you can and we can present options and
> possibilities that may only be possible in some later budgetary
> environment but that would be well worth consideration.
> We may also take advantage, if you like, of one of the
> "unscheduled" weeks of colloquium to have a broader discussion of
> Steven A. Barnes
> Assistant Professor
> Ph.D. Director in History
> Department of History and Art History
> George Mason University
> MS 3G1
> Fairfax, VA 22030
> [log in to unmask]
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Maureen Connors <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Friday, October 16, 2009 6:52 pm
> Subject: Re: Some ideas/concerns
> > Hello All,
> > I too would like teaching experience and find it interesting
> > the department is so concerned about people reaching candidacy
> > yet do not provide the opportunity (at least for those of us
> > interested) to teach and develop the skills necessary to enter a
> > very competitive job market. I would think that increasing the
> > chances for students in acquiring teaching positions at other
> > institutions would be even more valuable in building a name for
> > Mason's history program.
> > My fiance is a first year PhD student at West Virginia
> > where he is leading two sections of recitation. Next year he
> > be teaching his own course. They also have a post-doc program,
> > which we also don't have.
> > I think that it's disappointing that PhD students are not
> > 100 level courses at Mason. I can't imagine it would be more
> > expensive to hire 1, 2, or even 3 PhD students from our
> > department, have them each teach one of these courses, and
> > the function that these outside adjuncts serve. Are these full-
> > time non-tenure track adjuncts? If not, and they are payed per
> > course, then all the more reason to hire PhD students from
> > the program. Admittedly, I have not had the chance to be a TA,
> > but grading quizzes and exams is hardly the kind of job
> > that I would like to have before entering the job market.
> > My undergraduate institution, The University of Montana,
> > that their graduate students take on recitation sections for the
> > 100 level courses. This was not just in the history department,
> > but was college wide. UM is also half the size of Mason in
> > of student body, funding, etc. So I come from that sort of
> > background and find it frustrating that our options are more
> > limited at Mason.
> > I am in favor of going through whatever channels we need to in
> > making teaching opportunities an option to PhD students.
> > Maureen Connors
> > --- On Fri, 10/16/09, Jenny Reeder <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > > From: Jenny Reeder <[log in to unmask]>
> > > Subject: Some ideas/concerns
> > > To: [log in to unmask]
> > > Date: Friday, October 16, 2009, 4:25 PM
> > > Hello, friends,
> > >
> > > In talking with a few of you, I've been able to formulate
> > > my thoughts about some concerns with our program that I
> > > thought I would raise here. I'd love your feedback--do you
> > > have similar concerns? and what do you think we can do to
> > > make some good changes?
> > >
> > > How do you all feel about teaching experience? Is it
> > > important to you? Do you feel like we have opportunities
> > > here to make ourselves marketable for tenure-track positions
> > > after graduation? Do you think we should be able to teach
> > > lower-level courses, like History 100? Or even courses that
> > > fit our specific interest areas?
> > >
> > > I'm TAing for History 100 this semester, and the
> > > opportunity has given me an entirely different view of
> > > possibilities (I've been working at CHNM for the previous 3
> > > years). While it's kind of a pain to grade, I appreciate the
> > > experience. Now, though, I want teaching experience. Is
> > > there a reason why we can't teach Western Civ? Or American
> > > survey courses? It seems like it would actually save the
> > > university money from hiring adjuncts, plus provide more
> > > support to PhD students, plus make us more marketable for
> > > tenure-track positions after graduation. I know some of you
> > > lead recitations, but aren't there only two of you (Steve
> > > & Nona)? Can more people do that? And is anybody
> > > (besides Jeremy with Clio 2) teaching? Or can we only teach
> > > outside GMU?
> > >
> > > What say you all?
> > >
> > > Jenny
> > >