Would you say “no” to a student who “wants a chat” about how their course is going? Could you? Should you? What about the colleague who wants a coffee to get your opinion on how they are being managed? If you can’t say no to these, you may have accidentally become a 'department parent'.
What is a department parent?
Academia runs on two types of labour: intellectual and emotional. Intellectual labour includes activities like research and supervising graduate students, and is rewarded with promotion and grants. Teaching is increasingly valued as intellectual labour, though still not rewarded sufficiently. Emotional labour – the managing of our own and other’s emotions in order that others are kept safe and happy – comes largely with teaching positions and administrative roles such as programme leader, course director, and personal tutor.
If everyone were taking on emotional labour service roles equally, they could be viewed as necessary citizenship. Unfortunately, there is plenty of...
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