Saturday, December 08, 2007

Hey man, schoolday's insane

I haven't heard response from any professors to that NYTimes article about how American universities are phasing out tenure. Interestingly enough, my doctor actually brought it up in conversation. He said that what struck him as different between European and American universities is that European universities care more about teaching, while their American counterparts care more about research than teaching. I think he's right about that and it's painfully ironic that American universities charge such high tuition rates since teaching doesn't come first in their list of priorities.

This isn't to say that individual instructors don't care about teaching; but the ones who put it before everything else are almost an insurgency movement in American academia. Here a blog called FACE Talk notes that some adjuncts were offended by the Times article's implication that adjuncts can't teach as well as tenured professors because they don't have the same resources. In fact, there are many adjuncts who are excellent teachers and most of them go above and beyond any conceivable call of duty. That's why they deserve health care, steady employment, and our respect.

The article talks about how adjuncts can appeal to the public. It's fairly easy to explain the issue though. In the last decade or so, enrollment has skyrocketed, along with tuition rates, while public funding has dropped. Admins have saved money by cutting back on tenured professors. Two decades ago, students were mostly taught by venerable professors with years of experience. Then they were often taught by venerable assistant professors. Then they were taught by adjuncts and grad students. And now, some universities are having sections taught by particularly bright undergrads. Universities can't keep lowering the quality of their product while expecting their customers to pay more for it.

At some point, this ceases to be education and becomes pretense.


gregvw said...

Run away!

Rufus said...

I'm pretty much defecting to Canada anyway and I hear they're better on the whole tenure front. To save money, a few Canadian universities recently cut their sports programs entirely, which I think would get you murdered in the states.