No one will fund that research. Find a sexier topic. One there’s a bit of buzz about. And make it something useful.
You’re really behind the times. There’s all kinds of educational technology out there. Why aren’t you using it? Get innovative. Update that course.
No one reads academic journals. What are you even bothering writing for them for? You need to blog, write op eds for a newspaper, talk to policy makers.
You’re never going to get promoted if you don’t write some journal articles. Who cares about your blog? That’s not real scholarship.
Lecture? You’re going to lecture? No one does that any more. It’s considered bad teaching. Learn about new teaching methods. Try new technology. Completely reinvent that course.
Research day? Is that what you call it? You’re just staying home in your pyjamas taking a day off. You’ve got more important things to do like plan classes, and sit on that committee that’s dealing with…
Yes, they are contradictory
And they aren’t always telling the truth.
You might recognize some of this gremlin talk. Or, yours might be saying completely different things.
Gremlins steal your autonomy. They make you think that you don’t really have it. That horrible things are going to happen if you actually make some tough decisions about how to allocate your time and energy.
Gremlins think that every new demand has to be added on to what you are already doing. That you have to do everything exceptionally well. And that it is perfectly reasonable to work a 60 or 80 hour week.
Gremlins sometimes denigrate academic values and take on public criticisms of academic life that may not be valid.
Your gremlins might think you are (or should be) a superhero. They tell you that you should personally overcome all kinds of structural constraints to attain some ideal state.
It doesn’t need to be this way
Despite all the changes in higher education in recent years, an academic career still offers a lot of autonomy.
- You have considerable autonomy over what you research.
- You have considerable autonomy over how and what you teach.
- A relatively small proportion of your working day is scheduled by others. You may have some influence over your scheduled hours.
- You have considerable job security (at least after an initial period).
- Your job is evaluated by peers, and you contribute to the evolution of the criteria used in those evaluations (at least once you are established).
You can make choices
All choices have consequences and you have to take responsibility for those consequences. But you do have choices.
You are part of an organization. You do not need to meet all of the organization’s goals. You need to make your best contribution.
Find out what the real consequences are likely to be. Make compromises based on facts not rumour, bullying, or sneaking suspicions.
Question your default response to new demands (however small).
If the compromises are too much, consider looking for a new job or even a different career. Only you can know what “too much” looks like. Don’t let fear of the unknown possibilities keep you in a job you hate. You have lots to offer. There are options. You just don’t know what they are yet.
Edited March 30, 2017.