Thursday, April 14, 2016

Supporting Teaching as a Tenure Track

Teaching is a method of applying knowledge to create brighter minds while research strikes at generating new knowledge. Research raises the credibility and quality of the university and often receives a heavy focus by administrators. Although beneficial it sometimes skews the efforts of faculty by putting the carrots in the wrong place. Strengthening teaching as a track to tenure is important for advancing important societal topics.

Faculty that seek to reach tenure are evaluated on faculty-teaching, research and service. The higher education system encourages research and publishing in its evaluation of tenure and sometimes inadvertently punishes those who seek a teaching track. The focus may need to be realigned around a core mission.

Teaching is an important part of success and a major function of higher education. According to Boyer's Model of Scholarship it is beneficial to advance the scholarship of learning. Ensuring new research findings are incorporated into the classroom helps students receive up-to-date knowledge.

Tenure is designed so that academics can discuss difficult and controversial topics without the fear of being dismissed. Most faculty never make tenure and fail to have their contracts renewed. The up and out system may not be doing much for improving the teaching-learning paradigm.

Discussing controversial topics is an important function of opening people's minds and raising their critical thinking skills. Without protecting those freedom of speech issues we are not going to advance as a society. It can be difficult to talk about controversial topics such as race relations, religion, law enforcement, sexual orientation, etc... without needed protections.

Students need faculty that can tackle tough issues and support the development of better educational processes through classroom experimentation. Supporting the teaching track, especially at teaching-oriented universities, is helpful in raising the quality of awareness and knowledge our students have. If higher education isn't in the business of teaching-learning then we may need to change a few things.

You might want to read about The Truth about Tenure in Higher Education from the National Education Association.

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