In academia, Teaching is to Cinderella as Research is to the Prince in the fairytale. Even if you won the best Teaching Assistant award, you could not graduate unless you finish your research and dissertation. Teaching and getting a job in academia are two different things. The PhD is a research degree first and foremost; the emphasis in graduate school is placed on research rather than teaching. The presentation skills that you acquire is based on being able to present your research in a clear and concise manner. While some might think that those are the same skills as teaching, others might beg to differ. I agree that presenting your research in a clear, concise, articulate manner is a necessary skill. However, professors, teachers, and teaching assistants will agree that teaching requires much more than what Toastmaster’s could offer in a ten-week session. Graduate school really does not prepare professors to be good teachers; ideally graduate school prepares graduate students to be good researchers.
Very few graduate doctoral programs offer or require graduate training in pedagogy :
(2)how to prepare a syllabus,
(3)how to manage unruly students,
(4)how to prepare a lecture,
(5) alternative ways to engage students,
(6)how to select a textbook…. blah blah blah
Without any teaching preparation, for some the transition from graduate student to professor in the classroom is more like a sink or swim situation. There seems to be some idea that because a graduate student has spent years in the classroom that becoming a good teacher is something that can be acquired by osmosis. I was born on a tiny island surrounded by the Caribbean sea and I have been around a pool on several occasions and I still don’t know how to swim. That being said when my require courses were out of the way, I took a graduate seminar on Teaching Sociology. It was a hands-on course that helped me to prepare a syllabus, create a lecture, exam, grading rubric, etc. After now being an instructor for past 15 years both on-line and in the classroom, I realized that I still did not learn enough in that one seminar. Nonetheless, without it I might have been lost even more.
Moreover, the research on PhD Completion and Time to Degree (TOD) indicates that teaching penalizes graduate students who rely on teaching as a funding source. This research suggests that the responsibilities of being a teaching assistant coupled with the time commitment take time away from the main goal of graduate school— research and completing the dissertation. I could go on but… graduate students should know that for professors in academia it’s “publish or perish “. As a PhD graduate you would not be able to teach K-12 without having to get a teaching credential. In sum, in academia, teaching is the ugly step-sister to the beautiful often celebrated sisters research and publications.