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Life in the Academic Trenches

Today I’ve GOT to read student papers, having put it off way too long. Friday I finished the last raft at midnight, as new papers were pouring in. Yesterday I had the temerity to invite friends over, which required me to clean the shack as well as fixing an actual meal. And I made doing the proposed new client’s editing test a priority. This left a half-hour to read papers, sandwiched between the time all the work was done and the time my guests showed up…not long enough to read even one magnum opus.

Next week’s set of papers is the last of the semester. Thank God. Let’s hope it’s the last of my career. Reading incoherent, barely literate copy generated by university juniors and seniors is actually painful.

Here are some examples from the fourth iteration of the same assignment, a proposal that a local company establish an on-site child-care center:

Children learn best when they are actively involved in group activities and also encourages socialization to prepare them for elementary school and set them on a path of life-long learning.

Research has established that women, on average, do miss more work days than men and unscheduled absenteeism has nothing to do with illness as it has to do with family issues or personal needs.

Having sufficient child care will be helpful when the company has high volume periods and employees will be able to work overtime. This problem is evident with employees having to take personal time from their work to either pick up their children, or find sufficient care. Most child care facilities charge late fees for picking up their children late, and employees would have to leave early from their work to pick up their child at a certain time. This problem is caused by not having sufficient space to build a facility. Most corporations that are already built are surrounded by other buildings, and there is no space to build another place of business. No provision of child care for employees has been a known problem and has played a role in not meeting deadlines for projects.

A member of the same group recently posted a paper titled “Sumary.”

In about three weeks, the Great Desert University will confer the bachelor’s degree on authors of this C-minus material. Why are they passing? For the same reason my young plagiarists are passing: check it out. Add to that situation the fact that a very fine colleague short-listed for a position at a California university failed to get the job because of defamatory remarks posted on Rate My Professors, and you get the picture, eh? When hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions are made on the basis of popularity contests, one does what one can to keep the customers happy.

Interestingly, one of last night’s guests is a sociologist. She doesn’t even teach writing, yet she also used the word “painful” to describe the work of reading our marginally educated students’ efforts. It is painfully sad to see how badly America—or at least Arizona—has done by the last generation or two of its young people. Really, there’s no excuse for it.

Well, I’m glad I’m not waiting tables, soliciting people over the phone, cleaning house, or digging ditches. And I’m thankful I don’t have to risk my life fighting fires, even though a friend makes a very good living at that. But if I had to advise a young person about a future career, I’d tell her to stay away from university teaching unless she has a heart of steel. The problems in our educational system are so vast, there’s nothing a single person can do about them. If altruism is your life’s goal, there has to be someplace where you can make a difference.

Comments from the iWeb site:

2 Comments

BeThisWay

How terribly depressing.

While part of me wants to call you on not standing alone in the drift, I can’t and won’t because I can see that the power of the current would knock you down before the first objection left your lips.

I wonder, though, what change could be implemented with an organized effort of educators who are like-minded.I’m not saying that you should throw caution to the wind and lead the charge yourself, but I’d like to see someone do it.

Preferably before Son starts school.Anyone want to take the reins sometime in the next sixteen months?Thanks.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 – 03:49 PM

vh

IMHO, parents today have three choices:

Buy or rent in a decent school district and ride herd, every minute of every day, on the kids’ progress and on what goes on in their classrooms; also add plenty of extra educational enrichment at home in the form of books, magazines, field trips, and travel; or

Put your kids in private school and ride herd, every minute of every day, on the kids’ progress and on what goes on in their classrooms; also add plenty of extra educational enrichment at home in the form of books, magazines, field trips, and travel; or

Home-school your kids and ride herd, every minute of every day, on the kids’ progress; also add plenty of extra educational enrichment at home in the form of books, magazines, field trips, and travel.

At this point, it looks like educating your kids is largely up to you. Possibly it’s ever been thus.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 – 04:32 PM

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