Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why Do They Hate Us?

Article in the Chronicle: Why Do They Hate Us?

It's about the rising tide of anti-intellectual, anti-humanities (in particular) hatred of universities and university faculty.

Interesting, but I thought there was too much faculty-bashing at the end.  Apparently we've been insensitive and elitist and thought more of our research than our students, so everything is our fault. Where I'd say that we've done what we've been encouraged and motivated and, frankly, compelled to do.   Nobody gets a job or gets tenure or gets promoted or gets a merit raise because of their teaching or their administration work; all those rewards come strictly from publication (sure, the other categories appear in the tenure dossier, but barest competence is sufficient for everything but research).  So we do what we're told matters, what we must do to keep our jobs.  It seems unreasonable for universities to give priority to publication over everything else and then blame faculty for doing what we're told.
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  1. This is such a good post. When I am having a fit of honesty with myself, I know that my teaching is the only thing that is actually having a positive social impact. My intense research on basket-weaving has little impact on the financial recovery of Detroit or the ability of American adults to do critical thinking exercises.

    No, my teaching is the socially beneficial work I do. The socially valuable work I do.

    And all the hours I spend traveling around, doing research, is really wasted in comparison to the positive results of my teaching.

    Oh god, as I wrote that last sentence, I felt a ton of snowflake-shaped bricks fall on my head. Christ.

  2. I hate to say this, because at times I fear it is my own muse, but... They hate us because of TV.

    On TV, we wear chains on our glasses with messy buns, because it doesn't matter if our hair gets in our way because we've never done an honest day's work. Our male colleagues wear gratuitous patches on the elbows of sports coats that will never wear out because they will never do a day of honest work either.

    On TV, we spend volumes of spare time conspiring to have tea with older pruney crooks at the faculty club, where, if a he, he will fondle a cigar and reminisce about a dead famous musician or politician, while, if a she, she will engage in some miniature version of performance art, right there at the table.

    On TV, we have cozy offices furnished by Ethan Allen, Ethan Allen pieces their tuition paid for.

    On TV, we have TAs who do our grading AND our teaching for us, leaving us with all of that free time. Then they try to sleep with us and have nick names for us akin to McDreamy and McSteamy.

    On TV, we spend the summers in Spain or Fiji or somewhere else they who hate us have never been. Their tuition is paying for this too, but we never get around to any actual research because we get caught up palling around with the natives, enjoying exotic fruits, both literal and figurative, and of course, getting drunk. Abroad, we go through with it and sleep with our TAs.

    In real life, we plan, but spend our days like this: http://collegemisery.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-i-dont-get-anything-done.html

    In real life, the 110 seconds per day we allow for bathroom time, sprinkled about (pun intended) in smaller chunks, HIDING from the emeriti (do you pluralize it like that? I don't know Latin, so I'm still not sure what my degree says. It probably says "This sucker paid us a lot for this tiny sheet of paper.") because they really DO have nothing to do but pontificate and drink tea.

    In real life we have florescent lights covered in ice cube tray dividers, surrounded by drop ceilings and all of our furniture is made of sheets of metal and placed on asbestos tiles.

    In real life, I've never had a TA, but my colleagues have had a few and they call us less flattering things and conspire to sleep with each other.

    In real life, every 7 years, some of us get to go somewhere else. And most of even them have to go to some other drop ceilinged dingy office within two time zones and their days go like this: http://collegemisery.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-i-dont-get-anything-done.html and then they come home and wonder where the time went.

    In real life, last week, some woman who thinks she's my friend called me during my class and left a message. This woman has been searching for a HS teaching position for the past 5 years, but chooses to waitress and refuses to sub because she "has a kid to feed" (never mind that if she subbed 5 years ago, she'd be tenure track by now, but I digress) She called me and said "I know you make your own hours, so I figured it was ok to call you now..." according to the time stamp, it was smack in the middle of my second of three long lectures. How the f' would that work out? How the F' would I "make my own hours?" Does she think I text my class "hey, I feel like having class now. Let's meet in the room, because even with us all making our own hours and stuff, there probably won't be anyone there." She can't find a job because she's totally delusional about what it means to teach. She wants to be a teacher and she has no fucking clue what the job entails. She's 50 and she went to college for education. But there were 40 years of television crammed into her head before that college began, so she has the Grey's Anatomy in a college setting version of reality programmed in her grey matter and it can't be erased, no matter what her mentors, or peers with jobs, tell her.

    So to answer the question, they hate us because of TV.

    (But TV, I still love you)

  3. A) Wombat... that was sheer f'ing brilliance. Funny. True. And scary because it is so true. TV is perhaps more powerful in shaping attitudes and behaviors than any actual individual human being.

    B) [from original post]: "So we do what we're told matters, what we must do to keep our jobs. It seems unreasonable for universities to give priority to publication over everything else and then blame faculty for doing what we're told." Do I agree? Abso-bloody-lutely. But I can't help but notice it's also the reason why students care about grades instead of actually learning anything. Hey, look! We're ALL effed up!

  4. I blame the talk radio/talk TV morons; the Becks, Limbaughs, Doocys, Hannities, and all the other ranting subhumanoids who couldn't get a real job and instead attack "liberal elites." Most of them were either college drop outs, never wents, or were blindingly average. Yes, there are some who are playing the Stephen Colbert and don't believe a word of what they say, but that doesn't stop their audiences from falling for it. These are dangerious times and frightened people lash out at percieved enemies.

  5. And Reality Shows...reality shows train them to revel in their mediocrity, beg for a second change their don't deserve, and get As because of brilliance... Natch.

  6. It wouldn't matter even if teaching were the #1 criterion (which is the case in CC Universe). They still hate us and treat us as if we are nothing more than privileged, pesky grading droids who get in the way of the administration's grand plans for making us more businesslike.

  7. Anyone else feel like we're seeing _Canticle for Liebowitz_ happening in slow motion?

  8. Electric Maenad - why yes!

    Wombat and Strelnikov and Academic Monkey - that too. And I also feel as if the socially significant work I do is DEFINITELY my teaching. Why is why it gets more of my attention than my research does, or one of the reasons; and that, in turn, is why I don't get promoted.

    As for what the other problems are with research - that might be worth a separate post.

  9. I was sure our new hire, Professor Bambi L'amora was coming by my office today--I even got a new Ethan Allen die-a-bed.
    Oh well, I guess I'll go back to the orgy with the cheerleading team who all think bald professors are hot.


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