I’ve often been asked lately whether I miss teaching. My standard answer is to say that I miss teaching very much, but I don’t miss all the things around teaching: the low pay, the lack of benefits, the constant feeling that I’m complicit in the adulteration of a once-great intellectual tradition. Which is all to say, I miss teaching, but not adjuncting. The work itself gave me profound satisfaction, but the working conditions were an affront to my pride. It was nothing like the vision of academia I received as an undergraduate; I went to a small liberal arts university which I’m not sure even had any adjunct professors. I certainly never had one. So while I now know the adjuncting experience from the faculty side, I have only my evaluations to suggest what it’s like for a student.
Carmen, though, has lived at both ends of the adjunct’s college classroom. She wrote about it for the New Yorker with exquisite clarity. Read about the pathology of placing students’ formative experiences in the hands of those with “great responsibility, precariously held.”