Friday, July 16, 2004

Student-teacher or teacher-student?

The National Labor Relations Board has decided that graduate TA's at private universities do not have the right to unionize. This is basically tantamount to telling GESO (the fledgling union wannabe at my alma mater) and its cohort to "Go cheney themselves."

Now I have to admit that this is one argument where I can see both sides fairly easily, as I have been both a research assistant and a teaching assistant. However, the principal difference between me and the typical teaching assistant seeking unionization privileges is that I work in the sciences and engineering, and the typical teaching assistant is in the humanities.

The consequences of this are large. Many humanities graduate students rely on TA positions for the bulk of their funding throughout their graduate careers, while most science graduate students TA for a very limited term--usually not more than one year. Consequently, the right to unionize would have a much larger impact on humanities students.

The main question to be decided, though, is: "Are teaching assistants students or employees?" I think that's a difficult question to answer with a simple "yes" or "no." Science students, who are usually supported by research grants, generally TA as part of a funding deal for the first year, or as part of their program requirements. Most people falling into this category probably shouldn't be considered as employees, then--at least not for their teaching duties. [More on this point below, however.] For graduate students in the humanities, when teaching becomes their primary duty--more than research or any other activity--then they have a case that they are employees.

Where conflict starts to arise is that research students in the sciences should have as much right to unionize as the students who are teaching assistants. Both of them are the bedrock on which many private research universities depend to fill their teaching and research needs. If one restricts attention to teaching assistants, then one does research assistants a disservice. That was one of the problems with GESO--they generally made it clear that RA's were not fully welcome in the organization. This caused a great schism in support--the science students, as a result of this rejection, later turned the tables on GESO by rejecting their internal poll for unionization last year.

The other problem I have against the unionization efforts is the tactics employed by the union organizers. They attempt to treat the situation as if they are already a union, and use rather boorish and obnoxious strategies to convince people that they should have the right to unionize. [This is about a smart a strategy as waking undergraduates up at 7.30 am and hoping that they'll petition the university to settle with the unions.]

All in all, though, I guess my position has to be that if any unionization is to take place--an idea I'm not entirely sold on in any case--it has to encompass both teaching assistants and research assistants. Otherwise, it's creating an even more unequal system than the one already in existence.

7 Comments:

At November 14, 2005 at 12:57 AM, Blogger JoeyBC said...

I’m about to make you think.
It might be painful.

Have you done anything earth shattering lately?

Read anything that really sets your mind on fire with a passion to do good?

How about doing something important for yourself?

Have you?

Do you know without a doubt where you will be living a few years from now, what you will be doing?

Got a Plan?

Know how to get there?

You gotta have goals!

I enjoy blog surfing and when I find one that makes me think a bit I like to leave a little nuget behind that may help the writer.

What will you do with this “nugget”? Ignore it or use it…

Here’s yours;

Write Goals Down

This crystallizes your goals and gives them more force. In writing your goals down, you are better able to keep up with your scheduled tasks for each accomplishment. It also helps you to remember each task that needs to be done and allows you to check them off as they are accomplished.

Basically, you can better keep track of what you are doing so as not to repeat yourself unnecessarily.

Set lifetime goals. At least have an idea of what you want to accomplish with your life.

Keep the low-level goals you are working towards small and easy to achieve. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it.

Keeping goals small and incremental allows you more opportunities for reward. Derive today's goals from larger ones. It is a great way to accomplish your goals.

Set Performance Goals, not outcome goals

You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. There is nothing more dispiriting than failing to achieve a personal goal for reasons that are beyond your control.

These could be bad business environments, poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck. If you base your goals on personal your performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals and get satisfaction from achieving them.

Set Realistic Goals. It is important to set goals that you can achieve.

All sorts of people (parents, media, and society) can set unrealistic goals for you which is almost a guarantee of failure. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions or flat out disinterest.

Alternatively you may be naive in setting very high goals. You might not appreciate either the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how many skills you must master to achieve a particular level of performance.

By being realistic you are increasing your chances of success.

Do not set your goals to low.

Just as it is important not to set goals unrealistically high; do not set them too low.

People tend to do this where they are afraid of failure or where they simply don’t want to do anything.

You should set goals so that they are slightly out of your immediate grasp, but not so far that there is no hope of achieving them. No one will put serious effort into achieving a goal that they believe is unattainable.

However, remember that your belief that a goal is unrealistic may be incorrect. If this could be the case, you can to change this belief by using imagery effectively.

Good Luck and Happy Goal Setting!

PS: Want some more “nuggets”? Pick up a few more @ Developing Goals

 
At November 14, 2005 at 10:46 AM, Anonymous Designing said...

Profession

Hi Ahmed

Have you done anything earth shattering lately?

Read anything that really sets your mind on fire with a passion to do good?

How about doing something important for yourself?

Have you?

Do you know without a doubt where life is taking you?

Got a Plan?

Know how to get there?

Most people don't. They just go through life hoping for the best. How can you possibly reach your dreams if you don't have a real plan?

A new year is coming. It's time to start thinking about your New Years Resolution and really start planning your life don't you think…

…follow through on some of those old goals you had years ago.

Even people in the goal setting business tend not to visit their "life plan" very often.

Are you one of those?

Need a little refresher and some FREE goal setting tips?

Spend a few minutes at Long Term Goals and take away life changing information.

Happy New Year!

 
At November 15, 2005 at 1:20 AM, Anonymous Home school said...

Designing

Hello Ahmed

Thanks for leaving your blog open to comments.

I always like to live a little "tidbit" of information, hopefully helpful and hopefully something that will make you think - and act.

This one is short and sweet, and I'll bet you haven't done (or done recently ), but after looking at your blog I'm pretty sure you will at least take some action, because you seem like a smart person.

Set New Goals.

Do you have any old ones written down? Have you set life goals?

Most people don't.

You will if you use some of the FREE information at Lifetime Goals

Have A Happy New Year!

 
At November 15, 2005 at 8:12 AM, Anonymous Achievements said...

Thanks for a good read on your blog.

I’m leaving a little “teaser” for you here to start you thinking about something you may have disregarded for awhile.

Perhaps it will make a difference in your day, month or year. Who knows, it could change your life!

I hope this is of great benefit to you, and maybe you can pass it on…

How to Begin to Achieve Your Goals

Once you have set your lifetime goals, the best thing that you can do is set a 25 year plan of smaller goals that you should complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan.
From there you can just shorten your overall goal spans for example, you set a 5 year plan, 1 year plan, 6 month plan, and 1 month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals.

Each of these should be based on the previous plan. It is the best way to begin to achieve a lifetime that is filled with and results in a life without any failed wishes. It results in a life without regret.

You see, by starting out slowly, you are giving yourself the chance to realize and work on achieving the goals that you set out to.

Nobody ever succeeds at attaining a goal that was forced through. Those that tried never really got what they were hoping for. In rushing through and trying to achieve your goals quickly you will likely miss a few key aspects that can really change your outcome.

Think of it this way; if you were to run a 10K marathon and decided to take a cab for half of the journey; have you really achieved that goal? Would you be satisfied when you crossed the finish line?

It would be a hollow victory that could only provide a moments happiness.

Finally set a daily to do list of the things that you should do today to work towards your lifetime goals.

At an early stage these goals may be to read books and gather information on the achievement of your goals. This will help you to improve the quality and realism of your goal setting and in effect; make it easier to achieve them.

You also have to review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life.

Once you have decided what your first set of plans will be, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your to-do list on a daily basis.

You have to periodically review the longer term plans, and change them to reflect your changing priorities and experiences in your life.

Have a GREAT day, and set a few new goals while you’re at it!

You can find more "tidbits" on goal setting at Reachable Goals.

PS. If this was helpful to you and you think someone else might be able to use it please pass it on. You never know, you could change someones life with this simple information!

 
At November 16, 2005 at 1:36 AM, Anonymous Teaching said...

##KEYWORD

Hi Ahmed

After reading a good blog I tend to analyze it to see what the person behind it might be like.

I've been in the goal setting business a while now and just like most people with experience in different areas of expertise, I can tell a lot about a person just by speaking to them or reading something they've written.

You haven't wrtten any goals on paper for awhile have you? And if you have I'll bet you haven't looked at them for a long time. Right?

Goal setting is hard work, and harder still if you don't have short range goals, mid range goals and long range goals.

I think you'll agree that few people really take the time to set goals of any kind.

When is the last time you really thought about setting some real goals, or are you like the vast majority of people who just "hope for the best"?

You already know successful people aren't "just lucky", they know how to set effective goals and reach them.

I was like that once, you might be also.

How about changing all that.

Come on over to goals+ and learn exactly how to set effective goals, act on them and be the real you.

There's a ton of FREE information and who knows, this little insert in your blog might well change your life!

Happy New Year!

 
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At November 28, 2005 at 11:29 PM, Anonymous credit line said...

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