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Faculty think they are God but act like the Devil.

Reader comment on item: Bad News from Slippery Rock

Submitted by Dr RJP (United States), Apr 11, 2006 at 18:05

Despite working in academia for over 20 years, I never was awarded a faculty position. Knowing first-hand how some faculty behave, I consider that a good thing (even though having tenure would be nice).

By and large, if given the choice, faculty would rather do research than teach. In many institutions, faculty get their wish as teaching assistants and graduate assistants assume that role, much to the dismay of students who paid tens of thousands of dollars to get an education from "real" professors.

For many students, getting a quality education is an oxymoron on many counts. First of all, as Levy has pointed out, some faculty do not deserve to be where they are, let alone be allowed to teach. If faculty do teach, it is primarily to fulfill the requirements of tenure (good luck finding any tenured faculty to teach). Next, having been a classroom instructor myself, students nowadays care less about actually learning something for learning sake and more about getting a grade. The first thing that most students want to know is the minimum required to pass their courses. The second thing they ask is "Why didn't I get an 'A'?"

If one were to look at the percentage of students receiving "A" grades for a given course over time, it would appear that they are learning more. Yet, the truth is that grade inlfation is at work as faculty have learned that the more "A's" they give out, the less flak they get from their students and the higher are ther evaluation scores.

So, it would appear that nobody in academia is learing much except how to work the system to one's advantage. Without much to challenge them, either intellectually or morally, some faculty fall deeper into the morass of liberalism. It often seems like a contest among faculty as to who has the most outlandish point of view, or how far can one get away with spewing it in public.

This is not to say that there aren't really talented, and level-headed professors in America. There are, and for the lucky students who get them, they will tell you just how much it meant to them to have a caring, knowledgable instructor. The problem is that academia does not regard nor reward quality instruction.enough to encourage more professors to be that way.

Instead, what administrations seem to favor are the politically-savvy, ourspoken ones that can generate just enough controversy to garner national attention. Why? Because any national attention is a good thing, even if it is initially negative because people will want to know more about that institution.

If an institution cannot gain a competitive edge by having a more talented, or more research-generating faculty, then it will get it by having one or two "free thinkers" who give the impression that their institution really accepts and encourages all points of view -- something that students actually find attractive.

On the other hand, you, as a student, might think, "Hey, if this nut-job can become a tenured professor as this prestigeous university, then maybe I can, too!"

"Birds of a feather flock together" as they say, and at some universities like Columbia, there are a some birds that need to be caged and covered!
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