On the Jumbotron

“I always tell them: ‘Put me in the stadium.’ I’ve always wondered how I would look up there on the Jumbotron.”

So says a prof quoted in an article on teaching big classes over at The Chronicle. My puny 200-person class pales in comparison to 1,700 students. With a few more years of experience, I think I could hold the attention of a room that size. I have difficulty enough keeping the attention of 200 as it is.

I was alerted to the article by a post by the (a?) Invisible Adjunct, who wonders whether use of undergraduate TAs in such classes constitutes exploitation. I guess the answer is “probably.” But the best person to answer such a question is the undergraduate TA (or Instructional Assistant, at UB). (Totally leaving aside the issue of false consciousness, of course.) Knowing that Jenn and Jeff are regular readers of this blog, and Cam makes it here once in a while, I wonder what you think. Were you exploited? Should the university allow the use of unpaid undergrad IAs?

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  1. Jenn
    Posted 5/4/2003 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think I was exploited while being your IA. Personally, I think I got more advantages out of it than one would think. I met a lot of new people and sort of learned what it was like to have “teacher” responsibilities. I always felt important when I walked into that room- unless my professor implied that I wasn’t worthy enough to have my name remembered (unconscious slip). And I don’t think undergrad IAs should receive money for doing that. It’s not a job- it’s a learning experience. Hence, credits are enough.
    I’m an educated woman but I’m afraid I can’t speak intelligently about the teaching habits of other professors (“A Few Good Men.”) What I mean is that maybe IAs are exploited in other classes but I know we weren’t. However, I am going to be an IA for Psychology next semester so I’ll let you know how other professors handle it :)
    Side Note: I’ve been on the jumbotron and it’s not flattering!

  2. Posted 5/4/2003 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I never felt exploited being an I.A. for Dr. Goldhaber last semester. I learned a lot and I think I accomplished a lot. Being an I.A. is the kind of job you do for the experience. That was payment enough for me.

  3. Jeff
    Posted 5/4/2003 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t feel exploited at all. We were treated fairly and you were easy to predict. Other IA’s, however, don’t share my views.

    Keeping anonymity, many IA’s told me how they hated the job because a certain professor was out of town a lot, and he didn’t treat them very well. My “informant” said that this professor didn’t even know her name by the end of the semester. We were fortunate to have someone who wasn’t a Republican bastard.

    Besides getting “in” with you, the exposure to other profs in the department was enjoyable. I know Jenn and I felt important, even if are roles were nominal.

  4. Posted 5/4/2003 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Hmm…I’ve also heard complaints from people that the prof didn’t know their name at the end of the semester…I know I made sure to do things that were above and beyond my job description….maybe people should make a better effort to stand out…

  5. Posted 5/4/2003 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Very nice blog!

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