Academic Paranoia

Another week, another round of navel gazing over at the Chronicle of Higher Ed. This time, it’s “Why Do They Hate Us?“, a plaintive wailing about why academics have such a poor reputation among the general populace. Apparently it’s because we’re all too stupid to understand them.

Cheerful reading for a Friday morning.

3 Responses to “Academic Paranoia”

  1. Pitt says:

    Higher education is evolving. As the author points out, it is both more expensive and less of a guarantee to get graduates jobs. I think people would put up with a lot of shit when college was reasonably affordable and getting a degree was more-or-les a guarantee of employment. Not so anymore.

    I also agree with the author, and on a larger scale, about the trappings and tinsel surrounding education these days. So much money is being spent- squandered- on things that have no educational value. This is taking place across the board, from plush, lavish elementary schools to college sports stadiums that make the Collesium look like an air-hockey table. But its pretty, and people like it. What people don’t like, generally, are people who are smarter than they are, so the wrath comes down on the academics. Its much easier to like a linebacker who can’t push a noun up against a verb than a professor who might verbally strafe you for improper minutiae.

    95% of the population that goes to college does so for one purpose: To get a job, and a better life. Colleges need to retool around that purpose. Learning for learning’s sake is great and all, but when you can’t pay the bills, its pretty useless. Of course, this is also assuming we’ll still have an economy where you can get a job with a useful degree, which isn’t looking all that likely.

  2. Dan says:

    Let’s make litter out of these literati!

    I don’t disagree with Pitt, but I wish the article didn’t make such a pity tool out of the work week. Yes, professors do work outside of the classroom. Anybody who thinks that they “make six figures for two hours per week in the classroom” is absolutely full of shit. But, at the same time, this writer takes it to the other extreme. He works over 50 whole hours per week? How does he live? How does he have time to appreciate life?

    That’s my only gripe really. Professors might work hard and put in many hours a week, but it’s ineffective to make it sound like they work any harder than blue collar brick layers. Or the high school teacher who takes night shifts at a gas station to make ends meet. It’d be much more effective to say, “Yes, we make a comfortable living that is justified by spending time on research and administration,” rather than throwing a pity party for how difficult it is to talk to students via email and texting.

  3. BrianN says:

    “The notion that knowledge is always political, and that perspectives are always relative, has eroded the belief in expertise and earned authority. If everyone’s biased, including professors, why not just “go with your gut”?

    Or maybe, the almost universal adoption of a single ideology among academics has made academia to be perceived as a just another pundit, rather than dispassionate “expertise and earned authority”

    Yeah, this guy is really part of the problem.

    We just had the science editor from the NYT here to talk to us about connecting science to the community. It turned out to be a speech about how ignorant Americans are and how we should go out and correct their ignorance. At the reception afterward, I asked if maybe the issue wasn’t ignorance, but rather that academics have simply lost the position of trust they once had.

    She was SHOCKED at the notion, but then admitted that when tested on boring issues about science (what’s DNA, is the world round, etc.) Americans actually score higher than Europeans.

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