I’m honoured to announce that I placed within the very top tenth percentile of teaching excellence, as evaluated across the entirety of the Faculty of Arts, at the University of British Columbia. These evaluations and rankings included assessments of my well-received course on gender critical feminism, which earned exceedingly high reviews from my students.
Despite such praise, including a major teaching prize in 2010, I’ve encountered little but indifference and hostility from management in my department; and I’m currently unemployed and have not been offered anything close to equitable or gainful work.
Academia is a profession in which doing your job well and excelling at it means nothing
. . . means losing your position, in my case.
UBC: do you care about keeping your best teachers, or are you content to toss us away as the academic equivalent of disposable Keurig pods? That’s how you’ve made me feel.
This is the state of education: I have a letter like this in my hand, but I cannot find any employment at all. None. Nil. I don’t think I’m special: I’m just asking, along with thousands of other sessionals, for something equitable.
UBC Arts, your sessionals sacrifice our souls to be educators. We’re assigned courses students don’t want; we work with your first years, many of whom are in very intense personal life crises and transitions; we share musty offices, double down on the hours spent in them; and all that same time are publishing, giving talks, reviewing articles, serving on committees, taking our research into the public … and all the other things that we’re told will improve our lot but do not. And I shall not perpetuate the farce. The truth is too awful to shroud. Teaching as a career is now regarded to be an embarrassment, despite whatever dress and garb the tenure track elite are peddling in their acceptance letters.
Their system is a broken locomotive; in the blur they can’t define their future vision anymore. The external review of my department even as conceded as much, but no substantive changes have resulted, at least from where I’m scrounging. But down here all vocations turn to dust.
I reckon it’s a despairing climate that is readily recognized. There is a catastrophic grade of unethical treatment shown to the lower caste instructors. I must beg my students to consider other options than grad school, because it’s immoral to tell them it’s a worthy course of action. And so I resigned from what I once considered my life’s passion. UBC: Do you care? Do you care about teaching and teachers at all? Otherwise, this letter is an insult. To me and to students.
signed, an open letter to a disconcerting disaster,
aoife assumpta hart
who once loved being an educator