Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lyrics of the Day: Two Professors Describe Their Work Weeks

Last night, I was co-emcee with Blanche Weisen Cook at the Professional Staff Congress event "Our CUNY vs. Their CUNY." The event featured satirical pieces by union members who teach at Brooklyn College, The CUNY Grad Center, Hunter, Laguardia Community College, BMCC, and John Jay. Since I also wrote and directed a short musical theater piece for the event (in which I also performed)), today's lyrics are by me. They are two songs about the work-load at the CUNY's community colleges.

The first is a duet between a professor Shifrin, who teaches writing-intensive courses, and Professor Stone, the department "suck-up" It's called "the 27 hour blues" with music by Joyce Moorman, of CUNY's music department. The 27 hours in the title refers to 27 credit hours, which means five classes one semester and four classes in the next. Or a "fifteen hour week" in one semester and a "twelve hour week" in the next. As the song explains, teaching involves more work than what's done in the classroom.


The 27 Hour Blues

SHIFRIN:
I teach 27 hours a year,
It makes me crazy
Oh, 27 hours a year
It makes me crazy

STONE
You mean that's all you do?
I think you're lazy
We get the summers off too
You and your whining really amaze me

SHIFRIN:
If you knew how hard I work
You wouldn't be so scornful
When you hear my 27-hours-a-year blues
you'll know why I'm so mournful

STONE: If you think you can explain
I'll try not to interrupt
Maybe I'll feel your pain


SHIFRIN:
We call forty hours a regular week
So how can 27 be so bad?
I'll break it down for you piece by piece

STONE: It can't be really bad just take it from me

SHIFRIN
According to a study by a Texas professor
It takes twenty minutes to grade a student's paper
With twenty-five students that 's 500 minutes
Or more than eight hours before your work is finished
And if you teach four classes the hours are 33
But if you're teaching five classes, it's 42 you see

And if you add prep time the total comes 57
Do you believe me yet when I say this job isn't heaven?

If you add the hours spent in class the total hits 72
Now do you see why I've got the blues?

SULLIVAN: You forgot the office hours - aren't three required?

SHIFRIN: That makes it 75 !

STONE: Now I think I see your point

SHIFRIN
That leaves me with 93 hours a week.

SULLIVAN: You have to sleep!

SHIFRIN
Subtracting sleep leaves 37
subtracting three for meetings
and another two for email reading
leaves thirty two!

SHIFRIN AND SULLIVAN: which divided by seven leaves four hours a day

CHORUS:
Time off we need it
We need it all
If we remembered the work-load
we wouldn't come back in the fall
Don't make us come back early
Vacation is short
Time off we need it!
We need it all!

STONE:
I see why some run from a job at CUNY,
It's not just the lousy pay

CHORUS:
Time off we need it
We need it all
If we remembered the work-load
we wouldn't come back in the fall
Don't make us come back early
Vacation is short
Time off we need it!
We need it all!


The second song was sung by "professor Sullivan" who responded to Shifrin's song with the comment that her work-week wasn't as bad because she didn't teach writing-intensive classes. However, as we see in this song, sung to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan's "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General,"
perhaps she spoke too soon....

I am a very conscientious history professor
I spend ten hours reading books before I give each lecture
From Spartacus to Reconstruction, Manitou to mass production
I answer student’s questions with the facts and not conjecture
I’m very well acquainted too with matters technological
I use computers in my class because it’s pedagogical
I spend seven hours weekly on those methods Paolo-Freirean (hmm, Paolo Freireran...)
And if I have two preps it’s twenty-seven hours I’m carryin’

I’m fifteen hours in the classroom and five more in the office clime
I do more than I’m asked because it seems to me I’ve got the time
The students really need me see, they visit on the regular -
I am a very conscientious history professor


It’s 47 hours and we haven’t got to grading yet
I write my own exams and quizzes, that’s at least two hours I bet
Add another five for grading - piles which are so very thick
The total's now at 54 - I think I might be getting sick
Administrative meetings are another duty of my week
The emails that I must respond to are another hour at least
Let’s round it off at sixty hours, I thought I had it easier…
But when I think of finals week it makes me even queasier.

It's blue books by the pound and their handwriting is so hard to read
And multiplied by 35 it’s really quite a task indeed.
With twenty minutes for each one, it’s 12 more hours before I’m done
And multiplied by five it means I hardly see my kids at home.

Gosh I didn't know that I worked 120 hours a week
That leaves just 48 for me, I see that I am up shit’s creek.

3 comments:

Gabriel said...

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http://unrepentantcommunist.blogspot.com/

on the commments page of the current post,and I will immediately link your blog to mine.Looking forward to hearing from you.
Gabriel in County Kerry Ireland

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