Originally posted by VitalOverdose
I totally agree.
But what is the alternative?
We need some kind of system that allows people to A) learn; B) socialize with other humans in non-virtual space, i.e., mingle physically with actual
other humans of the same age; and C) provide meaningful skills that allow one to make a living somehow after graduation, preferably in proportion to
the efforts/results of a given student's time.
All of this can be accomplished with the current academic infrastructure. But the nature of what it means to be a professor will have to change
radically, as will most other academic jobs/careers. Personally I think abolishing tenure is a good first step, but in so doing another mechanism has
to be set up that allows professors to somehow retain a good deal of autonomy and detachment. There are no easy answers, but strong freedom of speech
safeguards would go a long way.
Whatever the answer, it will only get worse if we continue along current lines. Profs are currently protected by tenure...but many abuse this rather
than use it as a tool of objective study. Instead they get lazy, push their own little pet agendas and theories, or try to develop a "cult following
" or "make a buzz" somehow so they can advance up the career ladder. And its not like they don't whore themselves out to the highest bidder of
their own free will anyway, in a myriad ways.
Another thing is that they shouldn't create any more grad students than can reasonably be expected to go on and find jobs in academia. If they can't
hack it as teachers/researchers, this should be decided BEFORE they enter grad programs, and they can then get on with their lives and go into another
line of work.
Also, don't forget, big academia can be big business. Harvard had an endowment of about $20 billion a few years ago, and though its taken a
substantial hit, its not like they are hurting. and they are juiced into "the system" which means corruption just like with any other big-money
operation. Other big schools are in similar situations, although more widespread pain exists...some schools are seriously hurting, in debt from stupid
big projects begun in the bubble years and meanwhile their endowment funds have evaporated with the financial crises. So radical answers are called
for, in some form at least.
I think profs should be held more accountable in some way, some of the pork should be squeezed out of the system, and so on. Also, the payoff relative
to the investment in time and money that students put in has to me more equitable. I think things like pure philosophy, etc. should always be studied
at the highest level, but the majority needs a system that can get them a real job..
It would also help if the economy de-financialized itself and we actually went back to making real stuff like we did when we were an industrial
powerhouse...then people could study disciplines that would bear real fruit for both the individuals involved and all of society, as well. But that's
a whole other kettle of fish.
[edit on 7/11/09 by silent thunder]