Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Another Planet

Sometimes when I read an article about Academia, even a corner of Academia that I supposedly know a bit about, it is not uncommon for the article to diverge wildly from my own experience. Either I am out at 7-sigma (or beyond), or the articles are skewed by the random anecdotes chosen, or something..

Example: An article on CNN.com today, "Some universities shift future professors' focus to teaching". News flash: it's not just about research anymore. It hasn't been just about research for quite a while, at least in my field. Sure, there are some professors not teaching or teaching poorly, but teaching has been a major component of tenure and promotion decisions at many research universities for more than a few years. According to the article, the job market "..seems moderately more interested in teaching skills than in the past". I would change "seems moderately" to "is significantly", and perhaps define "in the past" a bit more specifically.

And then there was a quotation by an art history grad student who just wants to teach and not do research
"It's unfortunate to know you have to go through all that other stuff to get to do something you love," she said." Isn't "all that other stuff" the things you need to know in order to be able to have something interesting to say? And more than just knowing a lot of things that you can repeat to students, research gives you the opportunity to be creative, go in new directions, teach others things they can't read in books. I don't know much about art history from personal experience (though some of my best friends are art historians!), but I would hope that research and teaching complement each other very well, just as they do in the sciences. I would never argue that you can't be an outstanding teacher without doing research as well, but in my own case, doing both research and teaching makes me better at both.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is one reason I don't watch TV. Whenever I see a programme on anything I know anything about, it is always erroneous, behind the times, or below my level of knowledge of the subject.

At least on the Internet you are in control and can surf/scroll/filter according to your own choices and speed.