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Essay on what an academic really is

Started by jimbogumbo, February 03, 2024, 08:49:22 AM

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apl68

Quote from: paultuttle on February 07, 2024, 08:22:10 AMThe common thread through all of this is that higher education has not communicated to external stakeholders sufficient details of what it's really like in the Ivory Tower, or why higher education is indeed valuable, useful, or otherwise beneficial to society. To me, that's our fault; we need to share this information so that nonacademics understand who we are, what we do, how we do it, and most importantly, why we do it. 

I believe there's a lot of truth to that.  Libraries have the same problem.  There's so much more that goes into running a library than the interactions with patrons that the patrons themselves witness.  For example, I was here for a couple of hours a day when we were closed to the public for four days due to snow last month, because there were things for me to do.  And I didn't miss a single day of work during the two months we were completely locked down in 2020 due to COVID.  I wasn't the only staff member here working during the shutdown, either.  Even with no patrons at all, there were things that had to be done just to keep the motor idling. 
If any will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.
For how does a man profit if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?

Wahoo Redux

Quote from: marshwiggle on February 07, 2024, 06:51:22 AMWhen have I actually claimed to feel victimized?

(And who said anything about "victim-precipitated abuse"? If people claim to be victims, but are lying, then they're abusing the system precisely because they are not victims.)


You claim victimhood frequently.

You are missing your own point about what you posted. 
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter--and the Bird is on the Wing.

Wahoo Redux

Quote from: paultuttle on February 07, 2024, 08:22:10 AMAs though standing up in front of a group of students and teaching classes was the only thing that professors did.

These same legislators have, for the past 3-4 decades, expressed disbelief, quite publicly and bluntly, when informed of the tripartite responsibilities associated with teaching, research, and service; because they'd never seen the research or service activities when they were undergraduates, those activities didn't exist. Couldn't exist. Even those activities that set up each course--writing the syllabus, choosing the textbooks or course topics/materials, or creating the lesson plans--were somehow not legitimate, because when those legislators were undergraduates, those activities were veiled from their sight. As a result, the only "work" that they would accept that professors actually performed was during scheduled instruction periods ("class meetings").

To be fair, this is most people outside of academia.

My own mother, may she rest in peace, grew up with a number of academics in her family, including a favorite aunt and a brother, and who was very excited when I went to grad school, lectured me about 'teaching is the important thing professors do' and had no idea about the rest of it, even after my father got cancer treatment developed by one of the famous R-1s.  Even though she had been an English major in her day, writing a book or an article just didn't seem very important to her.

Other folks simply lacked the concept that prepping to teach a single class might be hours of work for a 45 minute class or that grading may take entire weeks, include the weekends, just to stay on top of it.

Part of this, I suspect, is the view of the high school teacher we carry with us into college. 

The only trouble with service work, I predict, would be the questions like, "So you only meet once a month to discuss the basket-weaving curriculum!?" from folks who are mandated to be in their cubicles and dedicated to a specific series of tasks for 40 hours a week year round.
 
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter--and the Bird is on the Wing.

aside

These attitudes about professors are held by some staff members as well. Because they have to be in a certain place for a set number of hours five days a week, some assume they work harder than professors.

dismalist

We got people lining up to become academics! Even in STEM fields. Thousands of post-docs, all waiting to get in. Those waiting even take ill paid adjuncting jobs.

Why might that be? 'Cause we got it good, very, very good.
That's not even wrong!
--Wolfgang Pauli

secundem_artem

Quote from: apl68 on February 07, 2024, 10:21:37 AM
Quote from: paultuttle on February 07, 2024, 08:22:10 AMThe common thread through all of this is that higher education has not communicated to external stakeholders sufficient details of what it's really like in the Ivory Tower, or why higher education is indeed valuable, useful, or otherwise beneficial to society. To me, that's our fault; we need to share this information so that nonacademics understand who we are, what we do, how we do it, and most importantly, why we do it. 

I believe there's a lot of truth to that.  Libraries have the same problem.  There's so much more that goes into running a library than the interactions with patrons that the patrons themselves witness.  For example, I was here for a couple of hours a day when we were closed to the public for four days due to snow last month, because there were things for me to do.  And I didn't miss a single day of work during the two months we were completely locked down in 2020 due to COVID.  I wasn't the only staff member here working during the shutdown, either.  Even with no patrons at all, there were things that had to be done just to keep the motor idling. 

It is important to note to these fine upstanding public servants that only time farmers work is when they have their butt in a tractor seat.  And the only time the clergy work is for an hour every Sunday. 
Funeral by funeral, the academy advances

Wahoo Redux

Quote from: dismalist on February 07, 2024, 02:14:26 PMWe got people lining up to become academics! Even in STEM fields. Thousands of post-docs, all waiting to get in. Those waiting even take ill paid adjuncting jobs.

Why might that be? 'Cause we got it good, very, very good.

Agreed.

Searching for non-academic work really illustrates how sucky most of the rest of the world is.

But academia ain't easy.  I've done the cube farm.  Academia is far harder and takes much bigger parts of your brain.

Not everything is a liberal conspiracy, Big-D.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter--and the Bird is on the Wing.

Hegemony

Quote from: dismalist on February 07, 2024, 02:14:26 PMWe got people lining up to become academics! Even in STEM fields. Thousands of post-docs, all waiting to get in. Those waiting even take ill paid adjuncting jobs.

Why might that be? 'Cause we got it good, very, very good.

Well, it's probably because they have spent years preparing themselves for what they see as a rewarding career, and now they want the job they've been aiming for. When you get the well-funded R1 tenure-track job, it's certainly not a bad life. The problem is that there are far fewer of those jobs than there are contenders. It's like supporting yourself as an actor or musician or novelist — success is sweet, but there's not enough success to go around.

dismalist

Quote from: Hegemony on February 07, 2024, 05:53:34 PM
Quote from: dismalist on February 07, 2024, 02:14:26 PMWe got people lining up to become academics! Even in STEM fields. Thousands of post-docs, all waiting to get in. Those waiting even take ill paid adjuncting jobs.

Why might that be? 'Cause we got it good, very, very good.

Well, it's probably because they have spent years preparing themselves for what they see as a rewarding career, and now they want the job they've been aiming for. When you get the well-funded R1 tenure-track job, it's certainly not a bad life. The problem is that there are far fewer of those jobs than there are contenders. It's like supporting yourself as an actor or musician or novelist — success is sweet, but there's not enough success to go around.

Absolutely correct.

But everybody knew the gamble when they chose the path. Everybody did it voluntarily.
That's not even wrong!
--Wolfgang Pauli

Hegemony


Absolutely correct.

But everybody knew the gamble when they chose the path. Everybody did it voluntarily.
[/quote]

Everyone thinks they will be an exception to warnings and market conditions. I am always reminded of the saying "Many people fail because they conclude that fundamentals simply do not apply in their case." That doesn't mean they're not in a pickle when the outcome, which they have spent years and much debt pursuing, does not come as hoped.

dismalist

Quote from: Hegemony on February 07, 2024, 06:40:28 PMAbsolutely correct.

But everybody knew the gamble when they chose the path. Everybody did it voluntarily.

Everyone thinks they will be an exception to warnings and market conditions. I am always reminded of the saying "Many people fail because they conclude that fundamentals simply do not apply in their case." That doesn't mean they're not in a pickle when the outcome, which they have spent years and much debt pursuing, does not come as hoped.
[/quote]

Mercy, mercy. We are uninformed and irrational. The end is nigh. :-)
That's not even wrong!
--Wolfgang Pauli

marshwiggle

Quote from: Hegemony on February 07, 2024, 06:40:28 PM
Quote from: dismalist on February 07, 2024, 06:12:59 PM
Quote from: Hegemony on February 07, 2024, 05:53:34 PM
Quote from: dismalist on February 07, 2024, 02:14:26 PMWe got people lining up to become academics! Even in STEM fields. Thousands of post-docs, all waiting to get in. Those waiting even take ill paid adjuncting jobs.

Why might that be? 'Cause we got it good, very, very good.

Well, it's probably because they have spent years preparing themselves for what they see as a rewarding career, and now they want the job they've been aiming for. When you get the well-funded R1 tenure-track job, it's certainly not a bad life. The problem is that there are far fewer of those jobs than there are contenders. It's like supporting yourself as an actor or musician or novelist — success is sweet, but there's not enough success to go around.

Absolutely correct.

But everybody knew the gamble when they chose the path. Everybody did it voluntarily.

Everyone thinks they will be an exception to warnings and market conditions. I am always reminded of the saying "Many people fail because they conclude that fundamentals simply do not apply in their case." That doesn't mean they're not in a pickle when the outcome, which they have spent years and much debt pursuing, does not come as hoped.

But since everyone else was not looking through rose-coloured glasses, they're not sympathetic to the people who wilfuly ignored reality and took the gamble. That goes for athletes, actors, and academics.
It takes so little to be above average.

kaysixteen

Ok, but....

1) It is certainly true, like it or not, that we all know that at least some (though probably appreciably less than in the 20th c) of middle aged, tenured-up academics more or less do very very little, as soon as they  get tenure.

2) Those of us Gen Xers, let alone our seniors, went to grad school in and then attempted to seek an academic career under circumstances vastly different from what grad school for the under-40 set today has become.   We never had to think of publishing whilst in grad school, esp in humanities, and most of us did not.  And it was still possible to entertain the possibility of an old-style liberal arts prof career where teaching was priority #1.  And, like it or not, most of us believed the lies told to us then wrt the looming explosion of academic job availability.   And, for the most part, these were indeed lies.

3) To compare academics to athletes and actors is a strawman.   One need not spend years and big dollars acquiring a PhD in football, in order to seek a career trying to sack Pat Mahomes.  And look at the resumes of tv stars from the golden age of the box in the 1950s-80s era-- many of these folks have no formal training in acting, and many never went to college for anything, or quit soon after entering to try their luck in Hollywood.  Nowadays, it is otoh true that many young thespians have MFAs, largely because the market requires the skills acquired in such programs.  Academics have always had to get doctorates, more or less, and the very need for acquiring such a rarified credential at least in theory should have been expected to weed out subqualified individuals, and make it easier for those actually completing the degree to actually get a ft academic post, something that was, at least for a period of time as baby boomers grew into college-aged kids, a reasonable expectation.

4) The average middle-aged state senator from Mayberry, whether or not he has a college degree, or perhaps even a JD, recalls, (at least to the extent that he was even aware of things then) academic conditions for professors when he himself was an undergrad at Compass Pt. St. U., and has little knowledge of the changes in academia, little incentive to try to acquaint himself with such changes, and is also faced increasingly with a constituency, esp in Red St America, which for a variety of reasons has come to hate higher ed.   This provides little logical reason for academics to expect much different from what we are now seeing, and a correspondingly large associated challenge in trying to ascertain what to do about these problems.