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schencka
A response to a comment on _Inside Higher Ed_

Link.

Original comment:

The section about exhausted faculty members in this article interests me. I still wonder how faculty at my college teach 5 classes face-to-face. About 7 years ago, I opted to teach 2 online courses so I could be the type of teacher I wanted to be with my 3 face-to-face classes.


The larger issue, though, seems to be one of attraction. Are community colleges attracting faculty who have the intellectual curiosity and depth of disciplinary knowledge to honor our students’ efforts, students who fit school into complicated and busy lives?


I read in an article written by a PhD at a community college who claimed that it takes a gallon of wisdom to impart a drop of knowledge.


To my way of thinking, a 30-credit MA in English or any other discipline (a pint of wisdom?) does not prepare future faculty members to work in a community college, to know the discipline they teach, to understand the landscape of higher education and the community college movement’s place within it, or to engage the complexities of being a public intellectual. Indeed, many MAs are hostile to PhDs, universities, and thoughtful reflection.


Answers? None at the ready, I'm afraid. -- Professor of English



My reply


Saying a 30-credit MA isn't enough to make a great instructor is an unfair generalization. At every level of education, it's a matter of motivation: *doing the work* as well as having the insight to realize *what is real teaching*. I'm one of those people with "only" an MA, and I just found that I was the only faculty member in my department who students reviewed as "giving a lot of good feedback" on student writing. And I thought I was doing the minimum.

Further, good teaching puts the integrity of the discipline (be it English, sociology, accounting, etc.) above the self-interest of one individual student. That means being sympathetic to students, but never lowering standards. Again, the credential of the instructor -- MA, MBA, PhD -- doesn't matter here.

You are right, however, in that some teaching-only instructors with an MA regard research-I and -II PhD professors as absent-minded Laputans. Tacking more coursework onto a 30-credit MA wouldn't have an effect on this. And I think the critique does have some credence. In fact, I agree with that argument, as a person who went through a top-40 MA program where the teaching of English composition was usually regarded as a waste of time.

In sum, the credential of the educator matters far less than whether the educator has the insight, motivation, and skill to do the work that makes good teaching.
 
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