How to kill a profession

Discussion in 'Online & DL Teaching' started by Kizmet, Mar 28, 2019.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  2. FTFaculty

    FTFaculty Well-Known Member

    He starts the whole essay off with this:

    "How did we discard the idea of college faculty? That is, how did we decide to systematically eliminate an entire class of professionals whom we once trusted to conduct the final distillation of our children into capable, confident adults?"

    And then, midway through the essay, he tells us this:

    "I lost most of my 40s to what I can only refer to as a nervous breakdown. Grief will make you crazy, and I was impossible to live with...The grief of not finding a home in higher ed — of having done everything as well as I was capable of doing, and having it not pan out; of being told over and over how well I was doing and how much my contributions mattered, even as the prize was withheld — consumed more than a decade. It affected my physical health. It affected my mental health. It ended my first marriage. It reopened all my fears from childhood about abandonment and rejection. It was a chasm into which I fell during my job search"

    So I'm thinking that at least part of the reason we have discarded the idea of faculty as a class of professionals whom we trust to do the "final distillation of our children into capable, confident adults" is that many haven't proven themselves up to the task. The "grief of not finding a home in higher ed"? That causes you to have a nervous breakdown? That "reopened all [your] fears from childhood about abandonment and rejection"? Ended a marriage? Grief that made you crazy? A "chasm" you fell into?

    If academics generally are as brittle as that, they are not up to the task of making others healthy, confident, capable adults. They need to become confident adults themselves, learn to take a few gut shots and not fall into a chasm because a career choice doesn't work out or because you didn't last your whole career at Duke--wow, they wouldn't even let me set foot on the campus of a place like that, they'd laugh my vita right into the circular file if I tried to get a job at a place like that. So what? That's life. Maybe my oldest, who wants to be a prof, can pull something like that off (she's a good sight smarter than me, maybe she has a chance). I've watched two careers die, I fell into academia in my 30s. That's just life, you move on, you don't collapse into a lack of confidence meltdown over career disappointments and then wonder why people won't trust you to teach their kids to be confident adults.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
    heirophant and Helpful2013 like this.
  3. Helpful2013

    Helpful2013 Active Member

    The bureaucratic deconstruction of academia is indeed a mess, but the combination of rampant political correctness and the cry, It's all about meeeeeee is so off-putting that the latest crop of academics has alienated the society that supports them. Badly done.
    FTFaculty likes this.
  4. Helpful2013

    Helpful2013 Active Member

    I don’t care for the author’s approach, but here’s my take on the dire situation in Western academia, particularly the United States.

    Over the past two or three decades, most university administrations in the US have consciously expanded doctoral programs in order to:

    1. Create a pre-graduation captive labour pool to teach undergraduates inexpensively.

    2. Create a post-graduation surplus labour pool that in desperation, will accept adjunct employment, allowing the shift to inexpensive non-benefited teachers.

    3. Create a permanent post-graduation surplus labour force that destabilises the bargaining position of permanent faculty.​

    This sounds like merely the pursuit of efficiency and the bottom line (and goodness knows academics haven’t always been the wisest stewards of resources), but the overall result hasn’t been efficiency for the universities or taxpayers, it has been the rerouting of those budgets into administrator salaries and vanity building projects. The problem is exacerbated by the skyrocketing tuition rates, driven by government intervention in the form of student loans, which are really, as recently discussed here, subsidies at taxpayer expense.

    Yes, a society does benefit when its members are properly educated, but the above situation isn’t a recipe for success in that area. In my opinion, the suited administrators are destabilising the entire enterprise by running universities as factories.

    All of the above is a situation that would, under ordinary circumstances, win a great deal of sympathy from ordinary voting Americans, whether they’ve gone to university or not. Unfortunately, strident voices in academia have been bashing the general populace for so long on every issue, that they’ve tuned out and left the academics on their own.
  5. jonlevy

    jonlevy Member

    Basically adjuncts bid against themselves by accepting unrealistically low pay for time intensive work. They also have zero bargaining power unless they are in a high demand specialty. But steady jobs are out there, you just need to be willing to relocate to some what undesirable places like community colleges, Oklahoma, Afghanistan, or China. Otherwise it is adjunct.
  6. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Since when are student loans subsidies at taxpayer expense?
  7. Helpful2013

    Helpful2013 Active Member

    Every year, the Federal government increases the cap on student grants that they fund and student loans that they guarantee.

    Institutions raise their tuition to match those amounts.

    Enrollment recruiters convince students, many of whom are totally unprepared, that they should pursue education ‘all covered by financial aid!’

    When unprepared students fail out or default on loans after graduating with a useless degree, the government, also known as the taxpayers, foots the bill.

    The universities, many of whom don’t deserve the name, use these ever-increasing subsidies to supplant their foolish expenditures, such as increasing administrator salaries or constructing grand buildings.
  8. jonlevy

    jonlevy Member

    You can make it pay as long you get your PhD in a field where the university subsidizes it (I never paid a penny for my PhD, university grants and stipends all the way through) and when i realized there was no FT job, used adjuncting as a side gig. After 20 years, I am sure I am sure I have garnered more than $300,000+ in cash and benefits plus an accredited PhD. Of course some of the online universities expect adjuncts to treat a couple classes as a FT job, but they way around that is not to underbid ones self and limit your time. For those who are undisciplined and weak, paid for their PhD or went into debt, sorry but the future is not so bright these days.

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