Monday, May 23, 2005

Jonathan Gutow's Letter

To the Editors of the Oshkosh Northwestern:

In your Sunday editorial you made the mistake of assuming that three hours of class time equals three hours of work. Between class preparation, delivery, and assignment grading it's a bare minimum of nine hours per week. A lecture is similar to putting on a one-man stage show. Thespians spend hours practicing for even minutes on stage. I don't have that luxury. With my present teaching load I scramble to find more than an hour to prepare for each hour lecture. It is not because I am lazy or slow. My work-week averages 70 hours (minimum 50, maximum 120).

There are some differences between stage shows and college lectures: 1) I am the whole production company. I do the script, lighting, prop set up, etc.; 2) Each show is new, because my field is always moving forward; each time I offer a class I have to include new material; 3) I have to be prepared to answer questions from the audience and modify my show accordingly; 4) Each lecture class I teach equals three new shows a week; 5) I have to generate assignments for students and grade homework (grading time is already increasing because class size is going up); 6) I must try to make difficult college-level material accessible to students.

I can teach more. However, the quality of instruction I provide will decrease, and another lecture class will shut down my research program (presently about $100,000/yr used to pay salaries spent in this community by my research students).

I believe you owe me and other hardworking University staff an apology for misrepresenting our jobs. Our jobs involve much more than just the time spent in the classroom.

Jonathan Gutow, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Chemistry
UW Oshkosh

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