|Picket line, by Walker Evans (Metropolitan Museum of Art)|
Teaching is hard.
I blundered into teaching a class at Loyola University a decade ago: a pal asked if I’d talk to his journalism students about writing celebrity profiles. Happily! I showed up, leaned on a lectern for an hour, droning on about walking 18 holes with Arnold Palmer, discussing Snoopy with Charles Schulz and watching Dizzy Gillespie play trumpet.
“You’re good at this,” my pal said and, being a fool, I believed him. Everyone dog-paddling in the icy chop of professional journalism has an eye out for a safe harbor, so I stopped by the dean’s office to offer my services. They checked that I had a pulse and waved me aboard.
The next thing I knew I was photocopying readings, drawing up two-hour lesson plans, then gazing at 21 slack 21-year-old faces. When a student plagiarized an assignment, boldly copying off the Internet, I called in the dean. Without going into details, let’s say I naively assumed the dean would apply discipline, and enforce the antique notion that the ability to cut and paste text undetected might not be the kind of excellence that a Loyola degree represents.
All for a fee that I could have earned dashing off one of those celebrity profiles.
So I don’t want to feign impartiality toward the 300 non-tenured track instructors who held a one-day strike at Loyola last Wednesday, trying to spur the university to negotiate more sincerely with Service Employees International Union Local 73.
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