“My main concern was that, unlike at my previous place of work (the Guggenheim Museum), I hadn’t found any basic template or peer-to-peer platform for sharing teaching resources. I felt like I’d spent a semester reinventing a very linear wheel. I was searching for the conversations teachers of all levels have (or don’t get to have) around such issues as how we prepare to teach, what professional development we have (or don’t), what obstacles and frustrations we face in terms of implementing best teaching practices (and identifying these pratices), and what to do with the contentious beast that is the chronological art history survey. Now three years in, I realized that it’s not just newbie me. I have found that survey instructors are often teaching in the dark, isolated from opportunities to converse on this subject, afraid to ask for help for fear of seeming somehow incapable, or often just too time-strapped. Whether tenured or contingent teacher, it can be difficult to innovate and experiment with teaching the art history survey when so much else is demanded from our time. How often do we observe other teachers teach survey? Give constructive feedback to our peers? Have time to practice and refine class activities before debuting them?
Compounding this, a recent article in the Guardian hit home the fact that good teaching in the academy isn’t rewarded like it should be. Published books are. Published articles are. Yet innovative and dedicated teaching is not tenure portfolio material. The article pointed to this disregard for best teaching practice as part and parcel of gender disparity in the academy. The Guardian cites statistics that show that of those who hold the title of professor in UK institutions, only 20% are women, even though 45% of all academic staff are female. Per the article, “at the highest levels, the most senior management positions are judged on research output rather than teaching expertise and – for all the above reasons [see the full article] – women are likely to have done more of the latter.” Those highest on the work ladder, often men, are individuals who have focused on the old-school track of publishing and left the child rearing–both at home and in the classroom–to others. Those teachers of both genders who take the time to prioritze great teaching pratice? Silly them. The statistics reinforce the fact that focusing on good teaching is a time-suck that–generally–hobbles rather than helps us all up the career ladder.”
Read the whole post here.