Thursday, July 23, 2015

This Week's Big Thirsty and a Flashback to 8 Years Ago.

I dare you to publish this on your inconsequential blog!

Ten Reasons To Quit Your Jobs 

(and don't replace my title with your usual glib and unfunny 'attempts' at humor)

  1. Because you think your own 'research' is more important than students. (PS: nobody reads academic books except other academics.)
  2. Because students need guidance not disciplinary punishments and 'rules'.
  3. Because you only work 8 months of the year while many of your students and the rest of the 'real' world work 12 or more.
  4. Because an 'academic' degree means less and less in this world. (Check out to see why.)
  5. Because on this site you all complain so much about hating it. Why wouldn't you choose to be 'happy'?
  6. Because too many of you have taught for too long and are 'burnt out' and have stopped bringing new material into the classroom anyway.
  7. Because too many of you rely on Powerpoint and old notes.
  8. Because I can 'earn' my education through books and the internet without having to pay a dime of your overpriced tuition.
  9. Because I care more about my education than you 'ever' did.
  10. Because you aren't good enough.

I have read most of your entries and am disgusted. I think it's repulsive that an 'authority' figure would stoop to such a low height to make fun of students like you do. I know you'll just delete this, but I think you should have an alternative position on your blog to show what a farce you are.


Q: Which number pisses you off the most?
Which one comes closest to the truth?


  1. Hey, no hard feelings. College isn't for everyone, and here's hoping you find your perfect niche in life, unburdened by 'rules' and 'punctuation' and sneering college professors.

    What rankles is hearing #3 from my own colleagues.

  2. Oh, fuck all of them bug me, but especially 5 and 6, for reasons that anyone who loves teaching would understand.

    As a longtime citizen of teaching universities, I guess there's something to #1 that I've observed in past and present colleagues that's probably close to the truth for some in the profession.

  3. #3 pisses me off the most. What the fuck am I doing with my time then? It's July and I'm in the middle of the biggest course revision I've ever attempted, stupid me. And I guess I'll take back all those nights, weekends, and holidays that I worked that my husband and other 12-month types had off.

    #8 comes closest to the truth. If only people would educate themselves. What a wonderful world it would be.

  4. Anyone who can manage #8 should feel free to do it (though they'll probably get a lot out of formal schooling as well. The really good news is that many people capable of #8, at least in relation to established academic subjects, can probably get a full ride at a pretty good institution. For those who can't, or have geographic or other restrictions, then MOOCs, published series of great books, etc., etc. are tailor-made for them). However, a significant proportion of the population doesn't seem to be able to do #8 (which tends to be touted by a very small subsection of the total population -- i.e. tech entrepreneurs -- who have not learned the one lesson nearly all Ph.D. candidates who teach do -- the average college student is not like you).

    #6 can be cured by sabbaticals, or even getting to take at least part of the summer truly off, both of which are increasingly rare phenomena, even for tenured professors (summers off were never a reality for those trying to earn tenure, as far as I know; they're just unpaid work time. Once one gets tenure -- or if one isn't eligible for tenure -- one gets to guess whether earning more money now by teaching a summer class or doing some writing/research in hopes that it might lead to a promotion or a better job -- and that same will come with a higher salary -- is a better bet. Since the systems of rewards, incentives, etc., keep changing, this is not an easy one to figure out. That, of course, might be a reason for quitting, but it's not the/a reason given in the list). And I'd guess that the amount of time off that a college professor actually could take, once all the end-of-year and beginning-of-year meetings and prep and such are taken into account, even if (s)he didn't write or teach over the summer, isn't too different from the standard amount of vacation in many civilized countries. So the combination of #6 and #3, and let's throw in #7 while we're at it, piss me off (teaching is hard work, and yes, doing too much of it under difficult conditions results in burnout. This isn't a reason to waste the collective experience of the burned out; it's a reason to restructure the system so they/we don't burn out. So there's an answer to #5, too).

    I kinda agree with parts of #1 (we probably have more academic publications than we need). But a lot of the surplus is created by administrators eager for the prestige and/or grant dollars that come with being a "research university." I suspect a lot of faculty would happily produce less research of higher quality if given the chance.

    I definitely agree with #2, at least to a point, and think that's reflected in my teaching (maybe not as much as I'd like in my syllabus, but that exists mostly to deal with worst-case scenarios, i.e. not the sort of student described by #9, whom I'd be happy to teach).

    Similarly, I also kinda agree with #4, but don't think that it's professors' fault that a bachelor's degree today is the equivalent, in terms of job qualifications, of a high school diploma pre-WWII.

    As for #10, good enough for what? Higher ed employment is as much a lottery/crapshoot as a meritocracy these days, and, as mentioned above, the system of incentives and rewards is not only perverse, but impenetrable/unpredictable. Besides, if the whole system is unnecessary (see #8), how does a "good enough" standard even apply?

    Okay; I need to go back to grading final papers (because, yes, I'm working in the middle of the summer, and no, not all of my students appear to care more about their educations, or at least this particular course, than I do.)

  5. Educate self without reading academic books. I love this guy.

  6. What bugs me most isn't any single one of these, but a general attitude that this person, who has never worked in higher ed, nor gone to college, knows so much better what it's like to be a professor than people who have been professors and who continue to dedicate their lives to helping reluctant students to learn.

    It's the attitude I see in many of my first-year students who think they know it all and that what they know is Truth with a capital T.

    It's the attitude that I see in people who are reluctant to learn anything beyond the Truth they've already decided is Truth.

    It's the attitude I most despair of as an educator because this person thinks s/he has it all figured out already by simply having observed from afar rather than experiencing it and has little empathy or compassion or understanding beyond his or her own reality.

    My most triumphant teaching moments revolve around students saying, "I think I've figured out that I don't really know a lot, but I now know how to go about learning what I need to" rather than "I know better than anyone else. Don't bother trying to help me learn."

    It's true that most of the important things in life I learned on my own, either through experience or through reading on my own. But for the core course content, I had to at least have someone guide me so I didn't become weighed down by my own hubris. Often, when learning on my own (and this is as an adult with a Ph.D. and many years of teaching experience), I need someone to point out what I still don't know that I didn't even know what something I didn't know. I think that's more what education sets out to do than to teach a specific set of skills that make one employable.

    This is written in mid-summer as I work on department duties that were overlooked during the school year, in addition to teaching summer school (did someone say we only work 9 months?). Do they know that in summer I actually work a regular 40-hour week rather than the 56-75-hours I normally work in the school year? Perhaps THIS is why we are burned out...

  7. I'll cop to #7. I use lots of PowerPoints. That is, I use lots of PPTs that include copious (and cited) images as well as text, plus creative, rhetorically appropriate animations, and that I spent hours upon hours crafting so I can use them for narrated video lectures when I teach online and in hybrid format.

    And let's also mention that when I show those PPTs in a f2f class, I freestyle over them and discuss details, whys, wherefores, examples, and subtle wrinkles that aren't specifically listed onscreen so that the students can't just print out the slides and call them "notes."

    Dude...I give good PPT, and my chapter about PPT has even been picked up as part of a texbook. Don't -even- try to mess with me about using PPT in class.

    1. Before I gave good powerpoint, I gave good overhead. [Feeble rimshot.]

  8. Fuck me, I'll be lucky to get 2 weeks off this year.

  9. OK, if I have to choose which pisses me off most, it's the PS in #1. All the others are so cliche as to be dismissible outright.

    Though it's tempting to think so, the worth of an article is not measured in the sheer numbers who read it, but in the number who apply it towards some useful purpose.

    Millions of people will read the latest schlock in the supermarket checkout and derive nothing more than a few moments' entertainment. X billion have eaten the lowest-common-denominator McBurger and shat it out to be mere food for worms.

    A few people may read an "academic book" and use it to positively shape thousands of lives over the coming years.

    1. I mean, thousands each, who will influence thousands each, and ... you can do the math.

    2. Amen - that PS is the one that pisses me off too. It's like saying that the only people who care what smart people think is other smart people.

  10. I think #3 pretty well sums up the author: ". . . many of your students and the rest of the real world work 12 (months) or more." Last time I looked, the calendar year had only 12 months. I sure would like to know which one (Julian? Martian?) has more, because I want to spend my retirement in a place that lasts more than 12 months each year.

    1. Yes, that was a nice touch. "Out here in the Real World, we punch holes in the space-time continuum with our bare fists! Take that, you ivory-tower parasites!"

    2. Hi Frankie, I don't know you since I've been absent, but love the humor! :)

  11. Good students are aupposed to care more about their education than their professors do. We're your professors, not your mommies.

    Scientists and engineers in "the real world" read science and enfineering publications all the time. Certainly, more is written for other academics than for industry, but what's wrong with that?