Archive for February, 2009

February 2nd 2009
Do not read unless you’re already on prozac/zoloft/valium

Posted under jobs & unhappy endings

icanhastenureSeriously, don’t look beyond the jump unless you’re in a very happy place, surrounded by loved ones, and with a demijohn of pisco sours on hand. Continue Reading »


February 1st 2009
Assess-mints, now with extra pointlessness!

Posted under jobs & students

assessmentmodifiedDrop everything and go read GayProf’s latest, greatest takedown of Big Midwestern U’s new on-line (on-line!) student evaluation clusterfrack. Here are some tasty tidbits to whet your appetite:

The higher administration decided that moving the system to an on-line format would be so much better. Why? Well, because – um … It means that – er . . . It will just be better! It’s on-line!

Actually, they did offer us a set of fairly laughable justifications. One was that students must want to fill out evaluations on-line if there are unofficial sites like the much reviled (and often slanderous) Rate Your Professors. The logic being that the driving force of RYP wasn’t student entitlement or a means to trash instructors who required their students to work hard. Rather, it was simply the on-line format that kept students coming back. If they could fill out official evaluations on-line, than their desire for venting about their professors at RYP would be sated. It’s on-line! Continue Reading »


February 1st 2009
He’s a fake, and he doesn’t know the territory!

Posted under American history & jobs & unhappy endings

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.


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