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The Part-Time Game

  • Richard Sigwalt

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More and more frequently the Africanist who wins a tenure track position (hereafter termed a “real job”) is the one who offers something besides an impressive area expertise. Prestige universities are rarely hiring, and the few jobs opening up nowadays are usually at four-year colleges and two-year institutions which cannot, or firmly believe they cannot, accomodate full-time Africanists however much they may want African offerings in their programs. Faced with declining numbers of majors and insistent administrative demands for high body counts, or Full-Time-Equivalent (FTE) students, humanities and social science departments and divisions are looking for versatility in the personnel they hire. Teachers must be able to handle both general education courses attractive to underclassmen and a wide range of electives which will simultaneously challenge majors and attract non-majors looking for courses to fill out their schedules. Successful candidates to such positions have often overcome an academic Catch 22 publicized in many job advertisements—applicants seeking their first real job “must have one or two years prior full-time teaching experience”—by playing the part-time game, which has in recent years taken on many of the attributes of formal internship programs in other professions. For all the game’s drawbacks, the candidate for a real job who has played the part-time circuit well enjoys a major advantage over competitors who have not played it at all or who have played it badly, for a few very strong recommendations from superiors at places where a person has taught part-time can put that candidate in the running even for real jobs advertised as demanding prior full-time experience.

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The Part-Time Game

  • Richard Sigwalt

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