October 12, 2015

"Academe has been unfavorably compared to many things: a cult, a bad boyfriend, fraternity-style hazing, or indentured servitude."

"In all of those analogs, victims are bound to perpetrators in such a way that the victims believe they have chosen to stay in dysfunctional relationships, when in reality they have been manipulated or coerced into them."

18 comments:

YoungHegelian said...

Okay, I'm probably gonna get hammered for saying this, but I'm gonna say it anyway. In my experience, the folks who stayed in academics in the humanities did so for two reasons:

1) They were very good at it, and would clearly become excellent scholars (a small minority) &

2) They had absolutely no idea of what else they would do with themselves.

The rest of us, who didn't fall into those categories, just left as time went on. But, what got most of us out what knowing that we had other salable skills, &, well, we went out & sold them.

harrogate said...

It's a sad situation, and mircaulous that it doens't lead to more suicides.

buwaya said...

"They had absolutely no idea of what else they would do with themselves."

This is it, in most cases, as far as my experience runs.
Most should have found some productive line of work and kept their literary/artistic/historical interests as a hobby.

Krumhorn said...

2. They had absolutely no idea of what else they would do with themselves.

Exactly! A PhD in any subject area that has 'studies' as a suffix, is a degree that is completely worthless in real life. I would also add:

3. All of the alternatives require considerably more work.

There is nothing so easy and soft as a tenured position. With release time to work on research and publication, you might teach 2 classes a semester requiring a presence on campus twice a week plus office hours and some grudging committee work.

In California at any public university, if you teach 2 full unit classes a semester as a part-timer, you get healthcare benefits and eligibility for the retirement program with a union-based entitlement to teach every semester unless you are a child-molester.

The most apt comparison is to the old craft guilds that get to say who can play...and who cannot.

With no offense meant to our hostess whom I hold in esteem, for the most part, the current batch of public university faculty that I see are an utterly useless waste of basic minerals.

Get rid of the public sector unions; get rid of tenure; and only then will public education improve.

- Krumhorn

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Oh. A PhD in religious studies. Explains a lot.

Sebastian said...

@YH: "1) They were very good at it, and would clearly become excellent scholars (a small minority) & 2) They had absolutely no idea of what else they would do with themselves."

In the Humanities, yes. Other fields, more mixed.

BN said...

"...the victims believe they have chosen to stay in dysfunctional relationships, when in reality they have been manipulated or coerced into them.."

So tonight's theme is: 1) nobody's really responsible for what they do anymore; 2) we are all victims, or at least those are who need an excuse; or 3) both.

BN said...


"2. They had absolutely no idea of what else they would do with themselves.

3. All of the alternatives require considerably more work."

Yes, that, but it's deeper. It's societal level graft. The money stolen/collected from the producers needs to be distributed to the team players. Everybody who pays along, gets their cut.

Godfather Studies 101.

David said...

An educated person knows how to solve problems.

A Phd. who can not solve problems needs to get an education.

traditionalguy said...

Where else do you get to wear the Academic Regalia? And teaching the one or two sincere students is rewarding. The bitch is so many students are there with no skills from high school and expect the student loans con will mean the Degree will make them job worthy in today,'so Obama World of delusions.

Gahrie said...

Wannabe Mandarins.

Birches said...

Sunk Cost Fallacy. See Megan McArdle.

Birches said...

Some graduate students discover along the way that the scholarly life is not for them, but most Ph.D. students are drawn to doctoral work because it offers a kind of satisfaction that is difficult to achieve in any other occupation.

Translation: No other fields give out gold stars for writing fluff.

PianoLessons said...

It is actually outrageous that most college tenured professors have been going to school every September since they were in Kindergarten. They have never done anything else except school. They were good at school so they just kept going. Sadly so many of these folks are so removed from the real world....we all know this tale of the ivory tower - it's TRUE.

Now most American universities are over-burdened with aging Baby boomer "good at school" tenured profs who teach maybe 3 or 4 courses a semester while also seeking two days a week on campus "duty" with limited office hours...seniority.....department politics....you know who they are. UGH.

This tenured, privileged "Good at School" demographic in academia is collapsing rapidly (Thank God). Tenure will disappear within the next five years in my opinion. I say "good riddance" to all the unread crap in all the unread scholarly journals that the ALL the disciplines (not just Humanities) demand as sacred script to defend the sacred status of achieving an unaccountable free ride for life known as tenure.

What foolish folks we have been to allow these types to prosper in academia - those who have never done anything but "be good at school".

I submit a great requirement to teach in a college should be one's ability to run their own successful food cart on the student mall for a year. Now THERE is someone who knows something.


MadisonMan said...

I thought this was going to be about the Math Prof at Berkeley who was denied tenure for being a good teacher that made the other professors look bad.

Aunty Trump said...

You know, this is 2015, why not say "bad girlfriend" instead of "bad boyfriend," oh, that's right, there aren't any bad girlfriends. That's the theme of 2015.

Gabriel said...

It's pretty easy to say that tenure is a soft job--when you've never experienced it--but the academics they are talking about here are the vast majority who will never get tenure, because we've been cranking out PhDs in excess of professorships for decades now.

That's who is the topic of the article, not the people who got tenure, which is like getting to play pro football at this point.

And prospective academics, like high school football players, need to prepare for the possibility that they will not make it.

SJ said...

From my own experience in Grad school, I think "indentured servitude" is accurate.

@Gabriel, you are right. There are far more PhD Grads than there are tenure-track positions.

However, the job of a tenured prof is easy. He typically has lots of undergrads and post-Docs...er, indentured servants...to help with his tenure-level research.