My St. Louis commenter has come back with another question: “What are areas of being a professor that are difficult – kind of the reality type things – non glorified real picture?” Good one. Here are a few thoughts, but on this one we need to hear from other professors:
1. Committee work: lots of schools have lots of committees and lots of committee work. It is part of what we do; sometimes it is too much a part of what we do. My complaint is that there are some who think the tedium of committee work is fun and think we ought all like to do committee work. Not so. Put in your time and pray to the good Lord above that, if you are like me, you’ll be liberated from such work as much as possible. North Park’s system is as good as it gets — not all serve on committees.
2. Politics: some think teaching at a Christian college or seminary will be Paradise. Not so. I’ve not yet heard of a Paradise school — each school has its share of professors and administrators who want to be in charge and a few others who’d like the same power and this leads to struggles. Politics is actually part of reality; I’m better at “reading” politics than negotiating them. I’m best advised to avoid them.
3. Income: some get into the world of professorhood not knowing that professors don’t make lots of money. At least there is no necessary correlation between how many years you’ve been in school and how much money you will make — I know lots of folks who slipped through on a BA and make lots of money and some with PhDs who are struggling to make ends meet. Most of us don’t finish school until we are about 30-35; that puts us behind the college-grad-straight-into-work-force-crowd about a decade. Go figure. I have colleagues who are 40+ who don’t yet own homes (or own a mortgage on a home).
4. Grading: any professor who tells you he or she loves to grade is probably taking drugs. I like to grade papers in new classes — like the papers this semester in my Women, Mary and Jesus class. The 400th paper on a theme in my Jesus of Nazareth class is not nearly as interesting.
5. Perfunctory students in perfunctory classes: most professors teach courses that students “have” to take — they are perfunctory or mandated or required. When I taught in seminary, I taught a course on Greek Exegesis that some students relished and others took because they had to; I now teach a course — Intro to the Bible — that many take because they “have” to. Here’s my point: the difference between a student who “wants” to take a course and a student who “has” to take the course is dramatic. Now it is my little game to get the latter group into the joys of the former, but my success rate isn’t 100%. I’ve had classes full of the latter group and it made me wonder at times what in the world I was doing.