In response to our most recent, "How can we help you?" post, an anonymous reader wrote in:
Recently you had an interesting post with considerations about how best to place oneself on the teaching job market. I wonder if I might ask you and your readers for advice on a variation of this: moving from research to teaching. Let me explain. I went to graduate school with the hope of finding an obscure teaching job with little to no research expectations. I like learning philosophy and thinking, but I don't really have anything to say. I am not very creative or original. Moreover, I have found I loathe the culture of academic research, at least in philosophy. I did some teaching in graduate school and found it was the only part of the academic life that I really enjoyed. Nevertheless, taking the usual advice in graduate school about conferencing and publishing and the primacy of research etc., I focused on doing that. This landed me a research-oriented job, with light teaching duties and constant pressure to publish publish publish, conference, network, synergize, and then publish some more. This is not the job or the career I want, and I don't think I'm the right person for it. My question is, how can I present myself as a realistic candidate for non-research teaching jobs, given the prevailing norms of our discipline, and academia generally, which put such value on research? How might I overcome the suspicion generated by a desire for what is likely to be viewed as a serious "move down" in the world. But perhaps my perceptions are too tainted by the biases of my academic upbringing?
Another anonymous reader replied:
I would just be honest in your applications. Do not speak disparagingly about Research schools or your lack of creativity (which I doubt), but stress your interest and enthusiasm for teaching. I teach at a State School that values teaching but expects some research. We would jump at an applicant like you. We would be confident that you would meet the (rather low) research expectations, and it sounds like you genuinely care about teaching. That sounds like a colleague I would want! Indeed, other departments on campus have hired enthusiastic teachers who did not get tenure at Research schools.
I think this response is right: that all things being equal, teaching institutions would probably jump at the opportunity to hire a good, established researcher who wants to move to a more teaching-focused environment. But I would add two things. First, it's probably wise to try to move from a research to teaching job before receiving tenure. In my experience, teaching institutions rarely seem to make "lateral hires" after tenure (i.e. at the Associate or Professor levels). Almost all jobs at teaching institutions appear to be at the pre-tenure Assistant Professor level, so attempting to move to a teaching institution after tenure would likely involve having to give up tenure. Of course, if one is terribly unhappy in a tenured job, one might be willing to take such a step--but I imagine many wouldn't be. Second, insofar as teaching institutions like mine really value teaching, I think it's important not only to stress interest and enthusiasm in teaching but to show--in one's teaching dossier and website--that one really goes above and beyond as a teacher: that one is creative pedagogically and in the classroom, committed to students, and so on.
What about you, the Cocoon's readers, especially those of you at teaching institutions? Do you have any suggestions/advice of your own?