Why Not to Go Into Academics or Why Academics Are Broke

I spend a lot of time with my clients and/or parents and guardians talking about what is good and what works for each person I work with. Yet this past week was the first time I actually had a good, solid conversation about working in the academic world.

What prompted this conversation?  I signed a contract to cover a lab for six hours but it is actually three labs that are three hours each. You do the math.  The person who is in charge of this said I would have to be there for the whole three hours and I would “proctor, but not proctor.”  Their words, not mine.  This changed from the original conversations about just being there for the beginning two hours of the lab session to make sure people are “okay”.  I have stood up for myself on this one and now they have threatened to pull the six hours altogether, insinuating that I “sound uncomfortable” because I ask a lot of questions.  I will be posting at some point parts of the emails.  They were whining that due to the lab, they are going to miss their “paid hobby.”  Then they went on to say that I will now be “observing” the first lab “with pay”.  It was not specified how long long I will be paid for.

I spent over an hour on the phone about this and missed a burn CME for EMT.  There were about 20 emails back and forth about everything above.  When I pointed this out, I was told: “I don’t understand about the 20 emails.”

They also want me to tell them who needs copies of books I am using and what pages I am using so they can make copies of the pages.  Do you know copying textbooks is illegal?  Also, they gave me 7 books for a group of 8 students who needed them and are now demanding to know where all the books went.  Basic math, anyone?  In addition to the seven on my list, several more registered. I sent in the names in an email, received no acknowledgement until I passed along the complaints about the missing books.  Two of them didn’t pay.  I still don’t have my books.  When I received a “frantic” email about books, I sent back the one I had sent the week before.  I guess my emails are being ignored until I point out that I had no computer access until Monday even though I asked for it months ago and point out that I’m not being paid for my time.  I’m not the only instructor being screwed out of payment for covering labs, I know this for a fact.

I am so furious and insulted right now.  But this is par for course for the academic world.  Prep time is off the books, I understand that, but don’t make me sit there and “proctor, but not proctor” a lab where I know I will end up teaching a lesson on something.  I was told the students “may ask one or two questions.”  Any teacher worth their salt will tell you that “one or two questions” can easily occupy three hours of discussion, especially with adults.

I understand the budget may not be available for all nine hours, and I said this straight out in an email, but don’t screw me and the students over.  The students without books are upset because they did pay for the class with the expectation the books are included. If I paid for a class where it was stated the books would be provided, provide the books.  One student told me directly he wants the book, not a copy, I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t want copies either.  I also don’t want to be part of a copying “scandal” or be sued because I told them what pages we were doing and the publisher goes after me and not the people doing the copying.  I also received an email on this, telling me I haven’t given them the pages that need to be “copied.”  If I published, I wouldn’t want people copying my stuff illegally because they don’t want to pay for a book.

Enough said, for now.

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