Sunday, January 16, 2011


Female Science Professor has an absolutely delightful take down of a Andrew Hacker and his book:

My vote for the strangest part of the book is the paragraph in which the authors describe a "workingman" who "jumped on a subway track to rescue a child who tripped and fell." The workingman didn't think; he just did it. The authors posit that professors on that same platform would not have jumped on the track to save the child:

"We wonder if, had some professors been on the platform, would they have paused to ponder how John Stuart Mill might have parsed the choices?"

I wonder if that is a sane thing to wonder. Of course the professors would save the child. What better way to combine broader impacts, a synergistic activity, and outreach?


Similarly, what is your evidence for your contention that professors don't work as much as they say they do? This seems to be it: "A story is told of a classroom where all the students were busy scribbling as the professor droned on. All, that is, but one, a young woman in the back row, who wrote down nary a word. How so? She had with her the notes that her mother had taken for that class during her own student days." That's the evidence? A possibly apocryphal story?


For example, your book starts with the story of a candidate who, in his interview for a faculty position, makes it clear that he is not interested in teaching and is only interested in research. The fact that he was not hired indicates to me that the system worked well, yet you used this anecdote to illustrate your hypothesis that professors don't care about teaching and try to do as little of it as possible.

There are a lot more really good examples in this text, these were just my favorites. It is definitely worth an afternoon read.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite part was her comment on this passage:

    'When faculty members do have power, they often use it to resist. When [Colgate University president Rebecca] Chopp tried to enlist faculty to invite students into their homes so they could see professors in another setting, she found few takers. "They have tenure," she said, and sighed, "They do whatever they want."'

    With the possible exception of the head of a house of worship, I can't think of any profession where professional are routinely expected to open up their houses like this, even when the professionals have NO job security.