The Professors' Plaintive Wail
Louis R. Godena
godenas at mail.edgenet.net
Sat Apr 27 11:26:39 MDT 1996
I find all this talk from the University of Minnesota interesting.
Isn't tenure itself a more or less antiquated concept? It was, according to
its numerous and noisy champions, a mechanism for protecting the jobs of
brilliant but controversial teachers who, for one reason or another, found
themselves on the foul line with the authorities. This type of individual
is always in high demand, but woefully short supply. They are a scarce
premium in modern academia.
>Today's academic is infinitely more likely to be just a run of the mill
ass-kisser whose unctuous habits of puckering up have already been
established by the second year of graduate school. On the other hand, the
proverbial "Mr Chips", the lovable but eccentric genius, is much better
represented in novels and psychiatric care units than in the ivy-covered
walls of academia.
>In my own trade, which is millwrighting (the setting up of machinery in
industrial plants), I bear constant witness to the casting off of workers in
their fifties and sixties who, having lost much of their physical stamina
due to years of grueling service, are no longer productive enough to be
profitable. No such system of tenure protects them, though, arguably,
their skills require every bit as much training, intelligence,
self-discipline, and attention to detail as the average academic position,
perhaps even a bit more. Their worth to society, in terms of achieved
social goods, would be even higher.
>This venerable system of protecting, in the main, quarrelsome, arrogant,
lazy,self-important pipsqueaks is a distorted reflection of the skewed
values under capitalism.
>The picture of the modern pedant, "mean-minded, provincial, and envious",
producing little outside of a "sullen" "coerced activity" (most professors
do little research and less publishing and there are statistical tables to
prove it), enjoying a lifetime sinecure in dross-covered institutions that
have long outlived their usefulness, engenders little sympathy in this
writer, and, I suspect, in the public at large.
>Is the party over in academia? Maybe it is time to turn out the lights.
> Louis Godena
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