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Update: At Critical Mass, Erin O'Connor announces her decision to leave higher education and doubts the serious purpose of those who remain, only to perpetuate the exploiting conditions of a glutted marketplace in higher education.
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Jonathan Dresner - 5/1/2004
I posted this on Erin O'Connor's site as well:
The other very virtuous thing about this transition is that it directly adresses the "kids these days" lament. How many of us have stood in hallways or in conference rooms and said "What do these kids do in high school? We have to teach them everything all over again!" What do we do about it? Nothing, we just kvetch.
But I'm with Michael Tinkler: I have a lot of trouble seeing myself dealing well with truly adolescent minds. Maybe I'm stereotyping (them or myself, I'm not sure), but the thought kind of scares me.
Anita Hendersen - 4/28/2004
The reason grad students and adjuncts are taken advantage of is because they can be. And that's because there are too many of them. More than the market needs.
What's amazing is the sense of outrage in acadmic circles about the system, as if being a college instructor were different from other jobs. I've been through downsizing efforts in industries. Many, if not most, Americans have. People watching their earning potential fall through the floor. What they've worked to achieve for years become devalued in the marketplace.
Ivory tower academics must be oblivious to this, thinking that the old system of establishing yourself and then sitting back and letting the money roll in is in place. Rather than feeling sorry for themselves and their colleagues, they should try getting on with life the way most people do.
Lots of people want to be rock musicians. A few make it big, a few more earn comfortable livings. Most do it as a hobby along with their day job or barely squeak by. Lots of people want to be professional athletes. A few make it big, most don't.
There's nothing unique about academia. Social activists always say we need to tune inner city kids to reality, make them understand that they probably won't become sports stars, the odds against that are too high, so they should have some other plan to fall back on. Maybe we need to let these professor wannabes the same thing.
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