I am working on (what I think is shaping up to be) a "classic" ghetto nerds review of the Watchmen.
Until then, I have been sitting on these links about the state of higher education, undergraduate teaching, and the depressing state of the academic job market. If anyone wants to commiserate, by all means chime in. We haven't directly broached these topics before on the site, but they seemed timely given some of the conversations I have had with friends and colleagues these last few days.
My personal entry point into this conversation--or the straw that broke the camel's back--has been the following situation: have you ever had a student who is utterly impervious to critical engagement? In fact, so difficult that they make you--and all the other students around them--feel like you, the professor/teacher are in fact the crazy one? That is so incapable of critical or reflective thinking, all you can do is look at your watch to pass the time while they struggle to give voice to their muddled thoughts?
For those of us who teach classes that are rooted in issues of identity (sexuality; race; gender; class...) this can be even more vexing and challenging as some students are looking for self-validation and therapy through their coursework, when you the teacher are not equipped to, nor will allow, class to become an "I feel X so it must be true" party.
Don't be mistaken, I have some really good students, students that really want to grapple with and think about these difficult issues. But, the others are wearing a brother out.
Final thought, for those of you in the academy, as a respectable negro I am still taken aback when it seems that the students most resistant to critical engagement, especially on matters of race and racial inequality, are students of color--black students in particular. There I said it. And it felt good.
Am I just having a respectable negro moment of exhaustion? Or is there something to my instinct that this generation of young "race men and race women" do not see their education as a political act? Thus, not having a sense of being in "the struggle?" By extension, these young black and brown students do not have a sense of obligation to, nor are they happy to see someone who looks like them (and is invested in their success) in front of the seminar room?
Maybe I am getting old, but I was grateful for my professors who really demanded the best out of me and held me to a higher standard.
They say the Irish are impervious to psychoanalysis. Could it be that this generation of coddled, helicopter parented, "I'm unique and special," undergraduates are impervious to critical thinking?
To the articles--
1. From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Horowitz at Emory
David Horowitz gave a speech at Emory this week, and he lived up to the advance billing posted here. It was a provocative, in-your-face lecture, and he railed against Islamic radicalism, Jimmy Carter, liberal professors, and Arab anti-Semitism.
There were no disruptions this time, no protests. But the evening turned out to be an utter disappointment. While Horowitz was pointed and passionate, the audience response was feeble and flat. Nearly every questioner opposed the speaker, but their opposition came down to one repeated phrase: “I’m offended.” They felt that Horowitz insulted their religion, their politics, their ethnicity, and they told him so — earnestly and courageously.
But they didn’t say much more...the article continues here.
Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes
Prof. Marshall Grossman has come to expect complaints whenever he returns graded papers in his English classes at the University of Maryland.
“Many students come in with the conviction that they’ve worked hard and deserve a higher mark,” Professor Grossman said. “Some assert that they have never gotten a grade as low as this before.”
He attributes those complaints to his students’ sense of entitlement.
“I tell my classes that if they just do what they are supposed to do and meet the standard requirements, that they will earn a C,” he said. “That is the default grade. They see the default grade as an A.”
3. You all know my feelings on this one. Also from the NY Times:
Chris Pieper began looking for an academic job in sociology about six months ago, sending off about two dozen application packets. The results so far? Two telephone interviews, and no employment offers.
“About half of all the rejection letters I’ve received mentioned the poor economy as contributing to their decision,” said Mr. Pieper, 34, who is getting his doctorate from the University of Texas, Austin. “Some simply canceled the search because they found the funding for the position didn’t come through. Others changed their tenure-track jobs to adjunct or instructor positions.”
“Many of the universities I applied to received more than 300 applications,” he added.
Mr. Pieper is not alone. Fulltime faculty jobs have not been easy to come by in recent decades, but this year the new crop of Ph.D. candidates is finding the prospects worse than ever. Public universities are bracing for severe cuts as state legislatures grapple with yawning deficits. At the same time, even the wealthiest private colleges have seen their endowments sink and donations slacken since the financial crisis. So a chill has set in at many higher education institutions, where partial or full-fledge hiring freezes have been imposed.A survey by the American Historical Association, for example, found that the number of history departments recruiting new professors this year is down 15 percent, while the American Mathematical Association’s largest list of job postings has dropped more than 25 percent from last year...
The piece continues here.