Chris Duncanson-Hales’s Experience
Critical Thinking and
Argumentation, University of Sudbury
I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for 10 years. I currently teach Critical Thinking and Argumentation. I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to continue my own learning as I learn with my students. I’ll never forget when I confronted a student for possibly handing in a paper they had not written. The students test grades were significantly lower then the grade on the essay. The student told me she had a learning disability and was better at papers then test. She didn’t seek accommodations because she didn’t want to have an unfair advantage over others. I referred her to Student Services after telling her that accommodations do not provide an unfair advantage, but level the playing field. I’m extremely proud of the time I collaborated with Nathan Loewen and Brooke Lester on a teaching text for Fortress Press, Effective Social Learning: A Collaborative, Globally-Networked Pedagogy.
If contract professors became full-time faculty, we could offer so much more to universities, students and Canadian research. As a full-time faculty member, I would have more time and resources to develop my teaching and learning. It would also mean I would finally be able to teach a course more than once and develop and teach courses more directly related to my research and scholarly passions. On a more personal level, I would have the opportunity to pay off my student loans which are currently in collection.
Each week, I travel 10 kms to get to work and do 20 hours of additional unpaid work to support my students. In return, I have no benefits. This is on top of >$40,000 in student debt I owe after studying at to become an expert in philosophical and theological hermeneutics. My current income is precarious, unpredictable and inadequate to provide for my family. I currently have NO job security, which makes it hard to plan or even save for my three children’s education let alone our retirement.
Overall, I want to tell you that when I first began my doctoral studies, I was sold a bill of goods promising that the demand for full-time faculty would outstrip the supply. I was told that all the professors currently teaching at the time would be retiring and need to be replaced in the next 6-10 years, right at the time I would be graduating. What they didn’t tell me is that they wouldn’t be replaced with full-time faculty, but with part-time contract faculty. Whether intentional or not, I was lied to.