I had a conversation the other day with a senior colleague about a grad program class. It seems no one wants to teach our introductory class in Research Strategies and Such. I've taught the RSS class before, and thought I did it reasonably well. The students who took the class with me, in exit interviews, seem to have thought the class was very helpful in their work here.
It's distressing that no one wants to teach this class because our students seriously need help learning to do research. But, my colleague told me, s/he doesn't feel qualified to teach the class, and most other faculty members don't feel qualified, either.
My brain is still reeling. Almost everyone who teaches for the program has a phud; a few have terminal MFAs. In English, a phud is considered a research degree; in order to get one, you basically have to convince several phuds that you have fulfilled a bunch of requirements, one of which is making a new contribution to your field. That contribution generally comes through research.
And yet, a phud in English sat in my office and said s/he isn't qualified to teach research in our field.
Every graduate seminar should involve some degree of teaching of research in the field. Every single seminar.
If people with phuds in English don't feel qualified to teach students how to do research in the field, what the dickens DO they feel qualified to teach?
Why do we have a graduate program? Heck, why do we have an undergraduate program, even?
We have a grad program for several reasons: the grad program gets some funding. We serve local people who want to get MAs, and giving people further education in our field serves our community broadly. It's a long drive to the next opportunity for MA study, and many people are geographically limited.
Those are reasonably good reasons to have a program. Of course, having an MA program also is a bit of a tiny ego booster for faculty folks, and means we get to teach the occasional graduate seminar in our field. Most people are eager to teach those.
But, seriously, if faculty members don't feel qualified to teach basic research, we aren't qualified to have a graduate program.
My brain is reeling. A senior person in my field sat in my office and told me s/he was unqualified to teach research in our field and it didn't seem to occur to him/her that what s/he said was even slightly problematic.