This Is What Teaching Is All About

by Jane S. Shaw

A Chronicle of Higher Education article about shrinking graduate programs in the humanities explains why making such adjustments has been so difficult. The market for humanities Ph.D.s is awful, but the professors who teach the graduate students just can’t give them up.

Here are some quotations from professors who are vying to teach graduate seminars rather than that piddly undergraduate stuff  (all quotations are from the Chronicle story):

The only place I can really use some of the research I have is at the graduate level, and now I don’t have someone to impart it to.

The privilege of teaching a graduate seminar every year, or at least every two years, long ago came to become an expected perk of faculty teaching jobs at Ohio State…It clearly can’t be anymore, but who gets seminars and who doesn’t has become an increasingly significant factor in faculty morale.

Training graduate students is part of the soul of what we do. . . . For many people, they are defined by their ability to train grad students in a particular model. And without that, it is causing people a great deal of anxiety.

Some faculty members see how many Ph.D.’s they train as an index of their standing in the profession.

I wonder what parents of undergraduates (and taxpayers) think of these remarks. The author of the piece, Robin Wilson, writes that “professors are being forced to focus elsewhere, including on undergraduate teaching.” What a shame.