Monday, February 24, 2014

Dr. Matt Stanard, Guest Blog

My son Matt, an associate professor of history at Berry College (Evans School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences) in Georgia sent a link to an article about tenure (which is under fire from many camps). I'll paste below the article source. He followed up with an email I can't resist passing along. There are those of us who question the efficacy of forcing education into a business model as if it were a car factory or a phone company. Yet, there are those who believe knowledge, socialization, inspiration, etc. are products to be measured by the marketplace. 

By guest author Matt Stanard 

The fall of the Wall, NAFTA, etc., have brought great prosperity but with it adjustments. Now there's competition growing everywhere.  Oh to think of when we actually feared communism might takeover in SE Asia, or that little Japan was winning.... so quaint. The good ol days.

As a prof I feel like a handloom weaver in early 1800s Europe or an assembly line welder in a US car factory in the 1970s - still around and doing ok but clearly on my way out.  NPR had a story on the need to teach kids to code beginning as early as kindergarten. To develop "an educated, competitive workforce."  Brave New World.  Someone up my soma dose.

We've been trying to shoehorn job training into the "Academy" (i.e. German model / Oxbridge style university) for decades now.  90% of 18-22 year olds are as curious about Ancient Greece or the principles of cell biology or the inner workings of the brain as I am in the results of this Sunday's NFL matchups. Assuming it's still football season. So why ask the Big Questions when it doesn't pay, and few care.

That said, what is saving us in the humanities at least is that all this MOOC stuff doesn't work. Maybe to train you to build a robot or do a spreadsheet, but not to reflect on the universe and your place in it.

But you don't have to know anything about the universe, let alone something about yourself, to go out and make a buck. So what are we doing at college?  Who knows.  But it's always been that way I suppose.  Meanwhile, like a monk hunched over his desk in a medieval scriptorium, I'll keep plugging away at my texts, isolated from the real world, and looking forward to beer with dinner.

"A Conservative Defense of Tenure" an article by Peter Lawler in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

... Although tenure is not in immediate danger at some of our best colleges, it’s na├»ve to believe that it has much of a future.

… conservatives are especially alive to what is lost when we transform all of our institutions according to the logic of the market. 

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