A Day in the Life of a Temporary Lecturer

A superbly readable (though uncomfortably familiar) account in the Times Higher Education about a day in the life of a temporary lecturer. Read it in full here.

Like many other graduate students, I need scraps of teaching to survive. Today’s session is one of several teaching commitments. My thesis is nearing completion but my funding has evaporated, so I am fortunate to have found some work in a nearby university. However, as the bus meanders along and I overhear students disparaging their assignments and lecturers with increasingly colourful language, I cannot help wondering whether my efforts will be worth it.

At the university, there is no office space for temporary staff, so I head to the campus cafe. Like much of the UK, it is privatised. I cannot justify buying an expensive coffee just to sit comfortably, so I turn away from the soft seats, which are reserved for customers, and find a wooden bench in the corner. Slowly, the space fills with students as lecture time nears. Looking around, I become aware of other older faces: people perched on the peripheral benches buried in piles of marking, or reading the only open books in the room. These are academic staff, people priced to the edges of their own workplace as the gentrification of higher education continues apace.

I purloin a cup of water and review my lecture resources. In this department, most course “content” is slathered on to PowerPoint. The students expect it; presumably it reminds them of school. I quickly discover their aversion to lectures that revolve around listening and discussion, their resistance to independent thinking, and their lack of interest in sustained engagement with textual sources. Later I am told, perhaps apocryphally, that one can finish an undergraduate degree here without ever reading a whole book.


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