Monday, March 31, 2014

Welcome to higher education

Tenure track positions might be less common now but there will always be a need for professors.



Is this what you signed up for?


11 comments:

  1. Those #ipayyoursalary tweets on the sidebar are astonishing. Do those kids think they are on a separate internet from everyone else?

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    1. Indeed. And I suppose so. Either that, or they imagine that professors never stray beyond email and LMSs.

      The whole "study guide" thread is interesting, too. I went to a medium-fancy prep school, and a very fancy (though admittedly not all that undergrad-friendly) college, and I don't think I ever encountered a study guide. Maybe a list of vocab words or concepts to know early in high school, but I think we were getting the "you'll be on your own in college" line pretty early (and I don't think we'd ever heard of study guides, anyway, so we didn't think to ask for them. There were review books for APs, but that's different).

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    2. CC:

      I didn't need a study guide when I was an undergrad. Whenever I had an exam in a certain course, I would go to the library, take some books on that subject off the shelves, and tried some of the problems written in them. Don't students do that sort of thing any more?

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    3. QMV: Good heavens, of course not. It's nigh-on impossible to get snowflakes to go near any book, even the ones they're required to have for class. You expect them to LOOK at OTHER books? I can hear the wailing already. Seriously: the hyperscheduled, helicopter-parented upbringing they've had inflicted on them has robbed them of anything whatsoever resembling initiative or resourcefulness. So, I hope your investments are sound, since anyone who needs to rely on a pension in their old age is in for a nasty surprise.

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    4. But aren't they also going to be running the companies listed on the various stock markets? If so, where do we invest? Also, given our salaries, what do we invest?

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    5. Frod:

      You're probably right. I often put my old exams (without the answers, of course) on reserve in the library. I gave them permission to look at them, copy them, bring their solutions to them into exams, anything. Towards the end of my time at that institution, thought, the number of students who took advantage of that decreased.

      I remember after one exam that some of the kiddies came to me and whined about how hard it was. I told them that I used questions from those older exams to make up the one they just wrote. One of the reactions was "Huh?"

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  2. Well...if my students were smarter, I'd still have a job, and it would be much more meaningful and pleasant. I'd be getting consequential education done, as opposed to doing what I can with a bunch of innumerate engineer-wannabes, and hoping they don't become too much of a menace to public safety.

    If my students were all autodidacts, I suppose I wouldn't have a job. One of the more recent of those, though, was Thomas Edison: they're fairly rare. Tenure-track positions might be less common now, but with what manages to graduate from college these days, you get what you pay for.

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    1. Frod:

      I'm beginning to understand your complaints about engineering students. I might be assisting a group of them at my alma mater with one of their projects. Already I have the impression that they are almost completely clueless. It scares me that they are the future of my profession.

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  3. I spent office hours talking to a student of the sort Frod describes above: a bit of an autodidact, definitely a Renaissance Man (aspiring to a field which requires that kind of mix of skills), but/and still looking for guidance, somebody to throw ideas around with, experts to consult with, etc., etc. I'd take 90-110 of him a semester any day. Actually, come to think of it, I'd take about 30 of him a semester any day; if all my students asked questions that interesting, I'd completely wear myself out trying to keep up with them. But I'd take that kind of tired over explaining stuff that's on the syllabus/in the assignment/was covered in class for the umpteenth time. The majority of my students are not stupid, but they're definitely overwhelmed, exhausted, and/or too anxious about the class, their grades, etc., etc. to do what they need to do to get the most out of it (i.e. settle down and work their way through the steps I've so carefully laid out, stopping to ask substantive questions as needed).

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    1. Oh, and it turns out that he really liked my class (which he took last semester). He seemed like a nice, friendly guy, and, although he sat in the back, he didn't seem completely disengaged or hostile or disruptive, but I still wouldn't have pegged him as someone who thought the class was really valuable. But he did. Hurrah! (and I'm still a bit afraid to look at the evals for the class as a whole; conditions -- time, kind of classroom, makeup of the class, etc. -- were not optimal).

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  4. Is this what you signed up for?

    I hesitate to answer the question, but I will. My answer is, Yes, this IS what I signed up for. I weighed my (limited) options after graduating with a liberal arts degree during the last recession, found a specialized field in a "recession-proof" industry (college enrollment has an inverse relationship with the economy), in a field that was and still is (how should I put this) silverback heavy, and went to graduate school to make myself more appealing. Almost two decades later I'm still at it with no sign of cut backs or layoffs in my field.
    Don't hate the player, hate the game.

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