Chheng-Hong has decided to turn the multiple choice exam on its head. I am probably one of the teachers he’s looking toward there, since I recall not making as many comments on student work last semester as might have liked. In any case, it’s symptomatic of the difficulties of teaching at a research school.
When I was a grad student I often thought professors’ complacency in teaching was astounding, and that was in a program where they actually cared about teaching. One of the things I’ve been working on is trying to spend less time on teaching (hopefully without it having disastrous effects), but I know I haven’t been able to crank out research like others have because I care about students’ experience. Sometimes it feels like I care more than they do.
A couple of weeks ago a group of students complained that a colleague of mine (also pre-tenure) started out a class by telling the students that he “got paid to do research” and that teaching was just something he had to get through. That seems like an odd thing to think, let alone to say, but it’s part of the mantra here, and I suspect at many top research universities. I also got into this because I like research, but why would you become a professor if you weren’t going to work at becoming a good one?