Thursday, June 01, 2006

The education of senior faculty

A few days ago, I was talking to a senior colleague from a related program. Part of the conversation went like this:

Sr Colleague: So, do you ever take time for yourself--non-work time?

Jane: Well, I do take one weekend day completely off from work.

SC: [looks at me incredulously]

SC: Well, you should really take 2 weekend days off completely, ideally.

J: I know. I wish I could. The thing is, most junior faculty don't even take a day off on the weekends on a regular basis.

SC: Wow. I had no idea.

***
I am continually amazed by how little senior faculty know about the lives of junior faculty. Most of them don't realize how much being a faculty member has changed since they were junior faculty. I think some of them think we junior faculty bring all this stress on ourselves--they have no idea of the external and internal pressures we face on a daily basis, of the changing nature of the tenure process, of the increased expectations around research. (Or, if they understand this on a meta-level, they have no idea of the magnitude of it or how it plays out on a daily basis.)

Conversations like this are frustrating, but if ultimately it means that there's one more faculty member that "gets" what it's like to be a junior faculty member these days, then these conversations are worth having, and worth having often.

4 comments:

Mel said...

you're so right about this. Although in my dept the senior folks are as bad about claiming they work all weekend etc.

and gold stars for you for keeping to your 1 day off plan!! it's really the key to something like academic sanity...

Ms.PhD said...

That made me laugh. And, good for you. But I agree with Sr Clueless, taking the whole weekend off is easier than you'd think, once you get used to doing it. I just wish I had your drive. After not working for several weekends in a row (and I don't mean not doing anything, just not working a full day either day), I'm having a hard time building up momentum again.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Oh, man, I SO agree with this post. It's amazing sometimes how sr. faculty don't get this. (I should add that my current department is MUCH better at this than my dept. at Rural Utopia was.) They simply have no idea! One of the nice things (if also slightly depressing) about Rural Utopia was that the staff totally saw what was going on and understood how jr. faculty were feeling. The sr. faculty? Somehow, not so much.

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