Dear BYU Religious Education,
I can only speak for myself here–one LDS graduate student studying religion; but I know this sentiment is shared, and that those who share it are apprehensive about expressing it. Over the next few years, however, you, Religious Education, will hire several new professors. I believe there is one search ongoing now in Provo (using the same ad), and another in Hawaii; so this is something you should probably know sooner rather than later.
You think much higher of yourself as a place to work than I (or we) think of you. Religious Education, in my view, is not a dream job; nor is it a highly desirable job; instead, it is a job that has some benefits, but many other drawbacks that make is less than desirable.
Given, however, that the job market is so bad and that academic positions are extremely competitive, you can afford to treat me as one of many chomping at the proverbial bit to work for you. You can ask that I jump through hoops that not even Princeton asks of its potential hires–spending my summer teaching for barely enough money to get by, working as a visiting assistant professor for a year before even putting up a full-time job ad, and allowing 19 year old students to be the final arbitrators in determining whether or not my teaching is good. I do these things only because I may not have any other options; hence when you ask if I am interested in teaching for you, I feign interest; and feel a certain degree of apprehension in sharing my genuine thoughts (even now, as I share them anonymously). The notion that you can have your pick of the litter is only true for a narrow subset of graduate students. Most of us hope that we will have other prospects. In the end, though, it need not be this way. [Read more...]