tenure & potty training

Eric Crump (wleric@SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU)
Thu, 26 Sep 1996 09:34:34 -0500

I'm with Bob. Not interested in the tenure game. Doesn't look like much
fun to me. I'm cleverly neglecting my phd work so I won't ever have to
worry about the temptation to attempt tenure ;)

Funny how these issues resonate. I'm lurking on montessori-l these days
and the big subject this week is whether to accept children into the
school if they haven't been potty trained. You could almost replace 'potty
trained' with 'tenure' and the discussions would be the same. And I think
Bob hits on their commonality: fit.

These prerequisites to privilege are the shoehorns of the educational
system (as we skip lightly to the next metaphor). But the system is not a
penny loafer. It's a wing-tip. Nobody's feet will naturally slide right
in. They all have to be made to fit, and then the feet are shaped by the
shoe and the shoe by the feet.

Those little montessori chaps, having been prepared by the potty-test,
will not be surprised to find hoops at every pass, with someone Above
judging their bodily functions (nothing is exempt, from peeing to
thinking) as they jump through. Already they are being groomed for

Albert's got some good points, though.

There is danger involved in escaping the protections of tenure. I don't
think downsizing institutions are necessarily going to maintain academic
freedom as they attempt to save money. Freedom is expensive. It's an
investment. Looks quite possible that fiscal robustness may come at the
price of intellectual freedom... in the institution.

"A last point: Getting rid of tenure is not going to eliminate grading,
evaluation, and fitting in standards in the profession. Some system of
evaluation will be put in its place."

Oh yes. Indeed. You're right. And you can see why reform efforts sometimes
evolve into separationist movements? Even when rather significant changes
are effected, something at the heart of institutions remains intact.
Evaluation. Judging. As long as those functions are implemented
hierarchically, the institution really hasn't changed. Mighty frustrating
for us fuzzy-headed idealists :)

Is evaluation inevitable? Might be (but maybe not!). If so, it comes in
more forms than this top-->down stuff and what we need to do is let other
forms emerge. The institution, I'm afraid, ain't going to let that happen.

"I am disturbed by this some of this list's apparent eagerness to jump
ship just when we need folks to take a stand."

Of course, you have to take *my* ship-jumping talk with a grain of salt. I
still work for a good old research I land-grant university. Like most
everybody else, I'm dependent on it to put food on the table. But I have
my eyes open for opportunities...

Jumping ship *is* a stand.

These days I lose hope in the possibility of change initiated from within.
I think change is *implemented* from within, but it is initiated from
without. It's only when alternative educational structures grow in power
and influence that current educational institutions will slowly get off
their great ponderous duffs and begin to moove.

I'm wishing, more and more, that I could be a part of that initiating
process rather than beating my head against the big old implacable duff.
At the same time, I realize that this is a 'grass is greener on the other
side' impulse. There ain't no promised land for learning.

--Eric Crump

the future will become vivid
spreadsheets will crumble before creativity
information will marry entertainment
they will have many children
--Sony ad, Wired 4.10

| Eric Crump
| WLERIC@showme.missouri.edu --and-- http://www.missouri.edu/~wleric
| "To the extent that Civilization As We Know It depends on correct
| spelling, Civilization As We Know It ain't worth saving."
| --John Slatin