Is That Whining Adjunct Someone We Want Teaching Our Young?

To the Editor:

I cannot comprehend why any adjunct professor complains with such entitlement about their inability to get a full-time teaching position; but then again, we do live in a new world where every child is special, everyone gets a trophy, and everyone thinks they are privileged.

It’s bad enough that society has raised a bunch of entitled young adults who claim to be victimized when they can’t find a full-time job. Now our adjunct professors are spinning such garbage with such drama. No wonder our new generation of graduates is filled with pipe dreams and no work ethic.

Why should I have to tell you that life is about compromise? As a career- and technical-education professor, I tell my students all the time that they may not land their dream job, but that they still have to work. I also tell them to get as much skill as they can, and acquire different talents, to have a variety of opportunities professionally. So when I read an article left in my box by an adjunct-teachers’ union about a dying, broken-hearted 83-year-old adjunct professor, I thought to myself, “Is that the kind of person we want teaching our young?” Do we want the person who was not able to be self-sufficient, pay their electric bill, or put food on their table? As one of my friends might say, “Time to put on your big-girl panties!”

Perhaps the position is filled, or the tumblers in the universe just didn’t fall into the right place for you. Or maybe you aren’t aware that you are annoying your colleagues with your opinions about everything, at every meeting, and at every event. Perhaps your full-time colleagues wouldn’t select you for full-time work because you are not likable. Perhaps you have a reputation for mediocrity, or you don’t fully engage your students. Did you ever think of another profession? Would you advise your own students to work part time with no benefits when there are plenty of full-time opportunities in this world just waiting for them?

Maybe this poor adjunct professor was happy? Maybe she didn’t have a family? If that is the case I commend her for her values and for her happiness. Sometimes we fail to achieve happiness no matter what our line of work or income is. Maybe she found inner peace? Maybe she liked the balance.

What if she wasn’t happy? Why couldn’t she have worked for a non-for-profit? Or worked in administration? She certainly could have still taught part time, right? Perhaps she didn’t have enough drive to seek employment elsewhere? Perhaps she had poor executive function or planning skills? Although I doubt it; one doesn’t earn a doctorate without a reasonable amount of planning and executive function.

I can only say that I have had full-time employment with benefits both inside and outside working in academia for over 30 years. I made choices. Life is a series of compromises. If you need to earn a livable wage with benefits and can’t do so in one profession—then choose to explore your options. Don’t spend a lifetime sacrificing for something and then complain about it. Become a role model to your own children, family, and friends. Be happy that you were given many gifts—and most of all use those critical-thinking skills.

Catherine Stukel
Business Technologies Division
Morton Community College
Cicero, Ill.

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