That Professor Harold Hill! What a scamp. (I have a big affection for Robert Preston, who looks a lot like my late Great Uncle John.) This is the coolest musical number in a musical that’s got a lot of memorable songs and dances–very cutting-edge, for 1962. (Does anyone else think Salesman #1 looks like Vince Vaughan?)
More seriously: I sometimes feel like some of the conversations about the current academic job market make it seem like my job is just as “gone with hogshead, cask, and demijohn, gone with the sugar barrel, pickle barrel, milk pan” as that of the turn-of-the twentieth century traveling salesman. (You can talk, you can talk, you can bicker, you can talk, you can bicker bicker bicker…) I don’t think that on-line courses will ever take the place of in-person instruction and mentoring, but I’m not sure what the analog to my job will look like in 40 years. Perhaps like other things in recent U.S. history, after a relative leveling of opportunity in the mid-twentieth century, higher education will become more stratified, with a few private universities retaining a faculty that is well paid and given time to conduct research, but most large state unis, second-tier directionals, and community colleges, will shift ever more (and perhaps all) of their classes on-line, with the F.T.E.’s outsourced to private vendors around the world, to whomever can produce them most cheaply. And diplomas from those institutions will be discounted heavily, compared to the rich, private unis and SLACs that will educate the wealthy.
At least, that’s where it looks like we’re headed, absent a massive shift in taxpayer support for higher education. Oh well, never worry about your line–time to dally, gather, pluck, and shine, friends.