Thursday, February 22, 2018

Today I am on strike

Today I am on strike.

I will not unlock my office door shortly before 9am, dump my bag and coat on a chair, pull out my laptop and plug it in, sit down at my desk. I will not check my email and respond to messages from students, from colleagues, from admin staff.

I will not make a cup of tea, and settle down with a piece of scratch paper to jot down notes for my afternoon lecture, beginning with the skeleton outline I'll put up on my board at the start, and outline that begins with "Questions?" and ends with "Questions?".

I will not upload the answer key to the homework assignment that at that moment will be being discussed by the final discussion group of the week. I will not update my textbook, expanding on the sections that I'll be lecturing on and adding examples and explanatory text in all the places where students have said "I'd really find it useful if you said more here."

I will not have scampi, chips, and salad and a pot of tea at the Dun Cow, my Thursday lunch ritual, the one day I don't have chilli and garlic bread. While eating lunch, I won't be going over my notes one last night to make sure I've got everything I need in my head.

I will not stand in front of ~80 students and answer any last questions they might have about translating in and out of predicate logic. I will not teach them how to calculate free and bound occurrences of variables, I will not teach them how to perform substitution, or when substitution is allowed. I made sure next week's homework assignment was written early enough to be uploaded yesterday. They'll have to work through the textbook definitions on their own.

I will not race back to my office after lecture to dedicate the next hour to my own research. I won't skype with a colleague or work towards any of the upcoming deadlines I have.

I will not hold office hours. I will not meet with my first-year students to discuss their questions about the material I just taught them, or with my third-year students with questions about upcoming material. I will not meet with my undergraduate supervisees to discuss their final year dissertations, due at the beginning of next term. I will not spend any downtime reading the drafts they've sent me and writing up comments on them. I will not meet with my PhD supervisees, some just starting out, some nearing the end. I won't read any of their work either.

I will not spend the final 15 minutes of my work day checking email one last time. Maybe it's new graduate applications that I won't be reviewing and making decisions on. Maybe it's an email from a student who can't make office hours but wants to set up a time to meet. Maybe it's an invitation to give a talk at another university, or to write a paper for a special venue.

I will not pack up my laptop, drain the rest of my tea -- now cold -- collect the things that have been strewn over the office, put my hat and coat back on, step outside my office and lock the door again.

Writing all of this out makes me feel horrible. It makes me feel like a horrible person, and I hope that I'm not. I don't strike because I want to. I don't strike because I approve of the consequences. I don't strike because I'm fine with sacrificing my students and their future for my future and that of my future students. I'm not fine with it, I'm not fine with it at all.

But I'm even less fine with the alternative. So, today, I am on strike.

1 comment:

  1. I think this strike is entirely necessary, and in your students' best long-term interest. As the students here said to their teachers: if they manage to do this to you, they will then do it to everybody.