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Why Teach?

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Teaching is an epistemological playground

tumblr_miips3VALd1qbcporo1_500-02202013Yesterday I posted under the title “The unbearable sadness of adjunct.” I hope you read on to see it was a larger discussion about the price anyone pays to live a thoughtful life. I tried to show the realities of teaching as an adjunct (often agreeing with Burnt-Out Adjunct), especially noting the counterintuitive reality that some advanced degrees still offer jobs that force you to choose between buying groceries or paying the mortgage.

But there are also good reasons to teach. If you can afford it (counting the work you do to earn a living and/or opportunity costs of time spent on teaching), it is work that is full of meaning. Here are a few reasons I continue to seek opportunities to teach as an adjunct:

  • There is a thrilling something about developing a coherent idea and presenting it to a class of students. Even more thrilling, when you see that they see the utility of the idea.
  • Class times often become incredible conversations. Not always, but often poignant things get said that help move my thinking (and humanity) to a new level
  • To teach is to learn. And learning is great fun. There’s nothing like trying to explain something to someone else to show how little you really know. As I explain, synapses fire and brand new stuff happens in my brainpan. Teaching is a kind of epistemological playground.
  • Students are amazing. At the college I teach, I remain deeply impressed by the devotion and care and passion many (not all) bring to the work. I often encounter excellent writers and I want more than anything to help those people move forward.
  • Faith and work belong together. Every year I teach I see this more clearly and I labor over (and yes, I pray about) how to explain the connection. My own work as a copywriter highlights and dovetails into this connection. I am very pleased to bring with me ancient texts that explicate the meaning of work and life.

Naturally, there is more to say about this. What would you add?

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Image credit: Kelvin Okafor via 2headedsnake

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Written by kirkistan

February 20, 2013 at 9:39 am

2 Responses

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  1. I agree, teaching has so many benefits, and I love it. I do think that more and more schools will rely on adjuncts instead of full-time professors, so adjunct profs will have to deal with it and come up with alternative sources of income.

    Angie Ward

    February 22, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    • Thanks for the comment. Adjunct is not really a career path, at least if you hope to earn a living. It seems more like a solid volunteer opportunity to me.

      kirkistan

      February 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm


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