Post #100: Why I Haven’t Left My University

In light of all of the posts from people telling us why they have left their jobs (Goldman Sachs, Google and the Empire, with the meme still rising), I wanted to spend my 100th post telling you why I’m not leaving my job.

  1. I’m not disillusioned. A lot of the “Why I Left” (WIL) posts talk about the authors discovering that their job wasn’t what it seemed, or that it had changed and the culture was gone, or that terrible things had happened and either evil Ring Lords had taken over their world or, in some cases, Evil Hobbits had killed the Benevolent Dictator. (Perspective is important.) Yes, University culture is changing but, firstly, not all change is bad and, secondly, a lot of positive change is taking place. Is this the job I thought it was when I started? Well, no, but that’s because I didn’t really understand what the job was. Education, knowledge, learning, teaching, research, integrity, persistence, excellence. Sometimes the framework it comes in can be irritating (matrix management I’m looking at you) but the core is solid and, because of that, the house stands. I’m now spending effort to get into positions where I can help that change occur in a good way and with a good goal.
  2. I don’t work for shareholders. Or, if I do, I work for 22 million of them.This is a big one. Most Universities in Australia are public Universities – government money, i.e. taxes, go to the universities to pay about half of their bills. Everyone who pays tax invests in the Universities that educates them and their children. Because we live in Australia, even if you can’t pay tax at the moment, then while it is not as equitable and accessible as it used to be (we could fix that, you know) it is still possible for people to go to college. Yes, it would be nice if it were free again but that certainly wouldn’t happen under a profit-driven shareholder vested model. I work for the people and, because of that, I have to be ready to educate anyone, anywhere, anytime. I don’t get to fail off a group of people because I’ve decided that they’re not smart enough for me – I need to look at what I need them to do and what they can do and get them from one place to the other. Maybe they need more help to get to that stage? That’s my job to work out as well, at my level. Some of them won’t make it, sure, but I never want it to be due to anything that I didn’t do.
  3. My job is fantastic.On a given day I can be discussing new developments in technology, encouraging a group of students to code, writing applications for my own research or getting time to stare at a wall and think about how to make the world a better place. Better yet, I have AMAZING ROBES OF POWER in which to do this in times of high celebration. Yes, every so often someone says “Those who can do, those who can’t teach” but I have been and I have done, and I continue to do, and now I also teach (I’ve posted in the past about authenticity). The most useful thing about that phrase is that, when it’s said seriously, you’ve just been saved a lot of effort in character assessment. 🙂
  4. I am a small part of a large community doing the most important job of allFrom kindergarten to PhD, the preparation and training of the next generation is one of the most important things that will ever get done. Since we developed writing, we’ve been able to scale our expert numbers up to match the number of trainees with increasing ability – first we had to copy by hand, then print and now we have electronic distribution. But we still need educators to complete the process of developing knowledge and enabling people to be able to receive and develop knowledge. But what we do is important because, without it, society goes away. Knowledge erodes. Things fall down. The machine stops.
  5. Every so often, someone says thank you. Every so often, one of my students comes back, covered in the dust of the real world and thanks me for what I’ve done. Yes, they often say things like “Wow, that thing you told me – did you know it was right?” but I know what they mean. All that sitting in lecture theatres and working on assignments – it had a purpose. That purpose was the right one. Thank you.

And that’s five good reasons why I’m still here.

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