Thursday, April 07, 2016

A Pervasive Sense of Entitlement: Tom Waits

A sense of entitlement comes up quite often on this blog and, actually, in some of my writings. I think what is at the core of a sense of entitlement is a feeling you are an end and not a means. When that is combined with being successful at getting what you want just by demanding it,  the formula is complete.

It happens in legal scholarship where 8000, $30,000 each articles are written each year  without much thought going to into what difference it makes. In a way you may think this is hypocritical for law profs but it is not. In real life they do not actually care if any of it makes a difference as long as it gets their names out there.

Faculty at law schools have an Everest sized sense of entitlement when it  comes to teaching. They want to teach only certain courses, at certain time, and on certain days. In fact, and I am not making this up, they want to compress courses into the fewest number of days possible. One colleague wanted to teach his 3 hour contracts class and his 3 hours securities class on Monday from 11-2. Yes, concurrent teaching.

Someone else topped that. Next year he will teach a 4 credit contracts class which meets 4 times a week for 50 minutes for 14 weeks and that is a total of 2800 minutes. He has asked to teach those 2800 concurrently from 10:00 to 10:1 on Monday, September 15th.  He either will talk 2800 times faster than he does normally or somehow fiddle with the space/time continuum. I think the big the collider thing over in the Alps is somehow involved.

Ok, some of the details on that are made up a wee bit but  I am not making this one up. Once we approved a 3 credit course and a law prof asked why we did not label it a 4 credit course because that way we could get 4 hours instead of 3 hours of our 9 hours teaching loads taken care of. Yes, no change in the course, just the credit hours.

I love students. I love them HUGELY. And especially I love those that feel entitled to have classes with only 6 total students in them, not have classes on Friday, and are entitled to write way in excess of the word limit on the test. Where does this come from? First, you have come to believe that the world rotates around you and simply complaining without any reasoning -- it's not fair, why are you punishing me, you've declared war on the students-- means you get your way. And, second, you missed the idea of limited resources and not everyone (except you, of course) gets what he or she wants (I'll be so happy when the grammar gods make "they" equal to he or she.)

What does Tom Waits have to do with any of this? In a word, Everything. If you read this rambling ( I am hopeful that you have better things to do than make it this far) please imaging it all being sung by Tom Waits who then follows it up with a lively rendition of Volare.


Fred said...

What do you think about Deans that strongly encourage professors to write legal scholarship even though the professors would rather be teaching and networking?

Jeffrey Harrison said...

1. Most don't want to replace scholarship with teaching but just want to teach less. Some want to teach because it means 50K in the summer as opposed to a smaller amount. Almost all who end of teaching more are forced to because they do not write.
2. Networking is for the birds. I hate it.
3. Most scholarship sucks and should be discouraged.