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Archive for January 26th, 2014

The other day Tenured Radical had a great post about the reality of writing in academia in general, but especially at teaching-oriented institutions:

The truth is that the vast majority of academic jobs, and some of the jobs that people want most because they conform to our romance of what higher education ought to be, are the least likely to forward one’s life as a writer and a scholar. Do you believe in faculty governance? OK, then, slice about six to eight hours out of your week for it, unless you are in the faculty senate or on some other major committee, and then take out another five hours. Are you a dedicated teacher? Six to seven hours a week, per class, until you start to enter Grading Hell about the middle of February, and then you can double that commitment. Do you like students? Well, then they will love you! Reserve another four to six hours a week for scheduled and unscheduled office hours, Mr. Chips, and this doesn’t even begin to count the hours you will spend advising and writing letters of recommendation.

I became increasingly aware over the last 25 years that peers who did not work at teaching intensive colleges had a great deal more time to spend on their writing. Yet strangely people act as if all full-time academic jobs are more or less the same, and that we all are similarly accomplished. We act as though there are not more than a very few people who work under the conditions that allow them to write more. In fact, I would argue that there is a kind of accelerator effect in academia, in which people who have access to the best fellowships and best jobs coming out of graduate school will, increasingly have access to more time to write than other people. It is these people who set the standard for excellence that, in the end, the vast majority of academics are expected by their institutions, and expect themselves, to meet.

This is a problem that I’ve discussed before in terms of academic false consciousness and the publication gauntlet. I am also hurrying to get some writing done before the crush of grading makes it practically impossible. While I think her identification of the problem is right on, most of her proposed solutions are aimed at helping faculty write more rather than addressing the fact that expectations no longer match a practical definition of reality for most academics.

False consciousness strikes again!

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