Thursday, July 05, 2007

No More Hiding

Higher education has long been the principal hiding place of shirkers. Not everyone, but there are layers and layers of children of privilege working half speed and taking up positions that could well be occupied by those with a work ethic.

But don't rely on me for this. Rely on higher education itself and the trend with respect to summer research grants. Under the old style, professors taught 8 months and then got "research grants" to help them with their vacations trip to all parts of the world to attend conferences where very little took place.

More recently schools are saying no pay with out actually physically producing an article or a book. The only possible underlying premise for the change is that professors are goofing off in the summer. Otherwise why change now? Is it only the current generation of professors who shirk? That is hard to believe. Instead with various high profile ranking systems around, the pressure may be on. University Presidents and College deans may find themselves job shopping if their schools dip in the rankings. So finally they are will to press for real life results. And we are clearly into the age of piece work higher education. Keep in mind it is only the threat of outside scrutiny that made this possible. Without that, administrators were perfectly willing to allow the party to continue.

The problem is this: While new pay structures for research are based on shirking, there appear to be no similar efforts to address shirking on other aspects of the job . Teaching tiny classes that are of limited benefit to students. Teaching only a handful of hours a year. Even being around only a few days a week. These privileged job practices continue even though the same privileged mentality that leads to shirking in research carries over to every other aspect of the job.

Looks like even more outside scrutiny is needed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmm, you have a point. Privilege seems entrenched in many sections of the education system, from those you mention, to hidebound urban teacher's unions that fight tooth and nail against reform, and to preserve featherbedding and other privileges.

There is a leaner, hungrier group of more recent or younger entrants to the field who see this and wonder at all the happy talk by privileged incimbents. Ironically, these same enjoyers of privilege do not hesitate to rail against the alleged evils of "corporate fat cats" but adopt a different tune when their own privilege is under scrutiny.

They deploy an effective PR system to make the public believe they are impartial, civic-minded sacrificers for the good of knowledge and the public interest, but behind all that happy talk is an obsession with entrenched privilege and perks.