Admittedly I’m a bit late to the party on this, but a few weeks ago historians took a prominent position in the Chronicle of Higher Education thinking aloud about our profession. Thomas Bender, historian at NYU, offered some suggestions for retraining graduate students into occupations other than the traditional tenure track professor. Because, *spoiler alert* there really aren’t enough tenure track jobs available.
It is evident, then, why we need to be paying attention to this discussion as graduate student members of the CFH. While many of the departments discussed in the article may not see community college teaching as viable options, many of us do. Similarly, few of us aspire to land at “publish or perish” universities, instead preferring the teaching-friendly and teaching-heavy confines of the liberal arts institutions that spawned our ill-fated desires to pursue this profession.
It leads me to a few questions; first, why does the academy as a whole seem to look down their noses at the teaching-dominant workplaces? Is there something inherently non-academic about teaching a 4/4 load? Secondly, what does this mean for those of us who believe in Calling? Are these articles and statistics a “sign” that we should begin considering other options (the proverbial “door closing”), or are they instead obstacles to test our perseverance in the midst of lifelong refining fire? I know I’ve mixed my biblical metaphors… but the question remains… what action (if any) should we take?
Greg Jones is the graduate student representative for the Conference on Faith and History. When he’s not teaching history or blogging about music, he loves to spend time with his wife Jennifer. They are expecting their first baby in September.