I initially moved back to New York City in 2016 for a Master’s degree in Dance Pedagogy from NYU. I had already been teaching for 8 years but wanted to improve my skills and learn new approaches.
I have had many amazing teachers in my life but during my undergraduate years was the time I felt actively discouraged, unseen, even disrespected by some of my teachers. Part of my desire to earn a Master’s was also to eventually work in higher education since this is where I felt, for the first time, that teachers failed me. I dreamed of essentially correcting what had been a struggle in my own life.
Side note- I just googled images for ‘disappointed dance teacher’ and for whatever reason, a suggested topic from this search is ‘disappointed cowboy’. I don’t really see the connection but I think we have the beginning of a truly cringe-worthy Rom-com. Yee-haw.
Then I learned what being an adjunct in a University or College is like, and what a higher ed job is like for many teachers without tenure.
McSweeney’s put out a hilarious list of ‘Honest Academic Job Postings’ that nails some frustrations of the Higher Education system.
Here are a few favorites:
The Economics department is hiring an assistant professor to fulfill all the service responsibilities that tenured faculty members refuse to do.
The Theater department is now accepting applications for an acting professor. Technically, you’re supposed to have a Ph.D., but we would totally waive that requirement if some famous movie star wanted to teach acting here.
- Sounds like a teacher I know- NYU/ABT Orientation
The College of Business seeks a new faculty member who can crush high-powered deals and make fat stacks, bro.
The Communication and Speech department seeks adjuncts who want to perform complex and intellectually demanding work for roughly the same hourly wage as a grocery bagger.
See the whole list on McSweeney’s here
It seems like most of the complaints have to do with job security, unfair expectations, and a mismatch of labor output and wage.
Here’s my honest imaginary dance teacher posting:
The Dance Department seeks qualified teaching candidate with significant performing experience with a name-drop-worthy company. Candidate should be able to corral their professional friends from other top companies to come teach master classes and has friends in the Balanchine trust so that we can get the rights to a ballet or two so that we can charge the he!! out of these students. Ability to maintain progressive educational conversations in the presence of all deans and prospective students required. Full license to exercise ‘artistic temperament/emotional abuse’ around actual students. Zero pay but this is a great credit on your resume and will provide lots of exposure.
All of the hassles mentioned are, noticeably, everything but the students. I still think teaching in a university would be a worthwhile pursuit. But like most things, seems like the real payoff the job would be hopefully meaningful work and relationships with the people.