Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Elite Academia's Dirty Little Secret

One of the ironies of my life in the academy is that virtually none of the practices that have made me most successful as a teacher- particularly the intensive individual attention I give my students both when I have them and after they have graduated- have been used to develop institutional practices at my own university or any where else. I have been treated extremely well at Fordham, and given much respect for my scholarship and teaching, but faculty here are NOT encouraged to spend as much time with their students as I do, much less their alumni, out of fear that it might get in the way of their scholarship. And if that is true at Fordham, you can imagine what it is at Yale or the other Ivies. I have received many horror stories from graduate students at these august institutions whose professors hold on to their work for months, never answer their emails, and give them only the most perfunctory attention even after they have been awarded prestigious fellowships to attend these institutions. In a million years i would never treat one of my students, with that kind of disrespect. Yes disrespect, neglect, unanswered emails, papers returned without real comments, are par for the course in many of our high prestige institutions.

I would never exchange my life for one of those professors, even though their salary may be higher than mine and my workload higher. But they, rather than me, are being held up as models of how a successful academic is supposed to comport themselves

That is one of the dirty little secrets of academia. The deep investment in my students careers and academic performance that I pride myself on is perceived as an eccentricity or an anachronism

And maybe that helps explain why so many graduates of elite colleges have so little respect for professors. and the teaching profession generally.