Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

P: +44 (0) 207 692 8706

To teach or not to teach – Decision for PhD Students

Aristotle said, “The one exclusive sign of thorough knowledge is the power of teaching,” and this sentence definitely holds some truth. Teaching is incredibly rewarding not only as an exercise to influence (read: spoil) innocent young minds, but also as an activity that improves your own work, both in content and quality. Because students have not been normatively inducted into the academic culture of your field, often have a unique and fresh approach to ideas. That unsullied approach might and often does help you to look at an old, familiar concept from a new perspective.

So, when at the end of the first year, your supervisor brings up the topic of teaching next year, there will be a proud warmth in your chest and you will have images of adoring students flashing through your mind. But should you take that chance? Should you teach? Why would you not teach?

Teaching requires the one resource you are already short on: time. A lot of time. Most PhD students who teach will spend half of their week on preparation and administrative tasks. Half a week for a term is not a small amount of time.

But the advantages might be worth it nevertheless. There is the effect it might have on your own research and the advantages of that should not be underestimated. And then there is the money, obviously – though don’t get your hopes up, it will not be a lot of money. But there is another aspect. Your career opportunities. This is more important in the social sciences and arts, less so in the natural sciences. But it is important.

If you want to remain in academia then teaching experience is a valuable asset on your CV. It will not make up for you delaying your submission of the thesis by years or for the lack of publications but it will help.

So, when it comes down to it – should you do it? Should you teach? I have no idea, you have to decide on that balancing act between time and money/career prospects/ interest yourself. But if you are following in the footsteps of the majority of PhD students before you then it is likely you will take the opportunity. You might even enjoy it.



Facebook Linkedin Instagram