Very few full professors were teaching when my kids went to university
(Columbia) 15 or more years ago. Even when I went (Holland, almost 50
years ago), only some were. Interestingly, some were giants in their
fields. Now if I could only remember their names ...
Hard to believe (maybe)? Tenured faculty members having benefits
(medical, retirement, others) aren't cheap, by comparison, and hiring
one is a long term commitment. Who are you going to use to teach 20
sections of XXXX-101? It's not like most of the adjunct professors are
unqualified--a great many of them are retired high school teachers and
do an excellent job. People looking for full time teaching positions,
and who have invested a great deal to get there, are "victims" of this
Is is true that colleges are being run more and more like a business.
Their survival partially depends on doing so, no?
Your reasoning makes sense, but an aspect of this that doesn't show is
that the student population and backdrop is different. Ironically, there
is less community at many community colleges I think. Traditional
colleges offer their own culture (just like the military offers a culture).
I think most (all?) traditional students would be well-served by living
on campus if they can afford it--it's a good way for them to develop
good habits. I think a mature person (not a duffus) who knows how to
handle responsibility, is organized, and who knows what they want, is
likely to be successful no matter where they go. The goal is not
necessary to help students to pass classes as it is to convert students
into people who are organized, can work well with others and with
numbers, can communicate and can handle responsibility. We want
graduates who are prepared to learn what they need to know and are
well-equipped to adapt to change. I'm sure there are plenty here who
have found their own routes to acquiring these skills. College offers a
concrete plan and certification, as would an apprenticeship (where are
Don't laugh--classes are already being taught through the Internet. Time
zone differences start to become significant issues!
Well, honestly, I had not read it. It was not a really a matter of my
being bothered. But I just went back and read it, some parts of it 2 or
I think, based upon my experience, I can only add one thing (if that):
That you can pretty much count on academic institutions to follow a path
which is consistent with their economic incentives. Contrary to the
opinion of some, there are some pretty smart people at colleges and
universities, even some you might call "angle shooters", who will work
like lawyers to get as big of a piece of the pie as they can. The pie
not only includes governmental support and grants, but also the
potential students (which colleges have some incentive to make as large
of a group as possible).
To me, it feels a bit analogous to government--very difficult to
mismantle and redesign...
Some similar problems: Medical costs, Suit-happy legal system,
union/employer rules, ...
A common thread seems to be the "angle shooters" who are willing to put
their economic self-interest ahead of "ethics". Entities have learned to
use "politics" in place of ethics. This seems to be related to
MARKETING--its not WHO you are, it's WHO THEY THINK YOU ARE that counts,
right? No Wonder ADVERTISING is so popular!!!
Example: If you run BP, just spend a few bucks and video some clean
water for the silver screen...
Extra Remark: I suspect (fear) that as we are pushed more and more into
a state of information overload, that marketing will only be more
effective as people will feel pressured to rely on sound-bites.
Extra question: Are ethics and religion related? Want to tie in
cable-tv, single-parent families, disrespect for nature and natural
I think if everyone felt a compulsion to "do the right thing" we
wouldn't be having this discussion. Are people entitled to be lazy? I
don't know. It seems unethical. Someone I know (that you don't) says:
"Laziness needs no explanation" (I think he is an extremely hard worker!)
I said above I could "only add one thing". Sorry if I exaggerated a bit.
If I had to reduce my entire post to one word, it would be "ETHICS".
It's not new. I taught a senior level CS course and a graduate level MIS
course 30 years ago. At one point I asked the dean if I taught all the
required courses, if I got my masters (I only have a BS). He didn't like the
Sometimes there are people in industry who know more about a subject than you
can find to teach.
Community colleges are often a good idea.
Internet classes are already happening. Something like a third of my son's
classes are via the Internet. Why not from New Delhi? That's where all the
instructors came from 40 years ago.
That may be very true, but that doesn't mean it's safe to assign them
total responsibility for a class if they haven't taught before.
What is likely to happen is that the "industrial expert" is likely to
assume too much.
That surely doesn't mean those industrial experts can't be put to good
use. The students love such invited speakers like that.
It's the department chair's call. Offering a substitute class may be
viewed as more appropriate than the possibility of having to deal with
an angry mob of 20 students (and their parents) with legitimate
complaints. Of course, the chair has to answer to the dean who has to
answer to a vice-president. Offering an alternative class starts to look
more and more attractive.
Here you are mixing apples and oranges. Invited speakers serve many
useful purposes in teaching. I think education majors come in a wide
variety. You assume they are all useless?
Yes, but, they are, well, "professionals."
Years ago I did some research. I found that the following were ineligible to
teach in the high schools of my state:
* All living Nobel Laureates (this was back when Richard P. Feynman was
* All winners of the Fields Medal
* Almost all literary prize winners, including Pulitzer, Edgar, Booker,
Caldecott, Newberry, etc.
* Virtually all members of the federal judiciary
* Virtually all members of the Congress and all living ex presidents
And on and on.
Simply because without the requisite "education" courses, it was presumed
they didn't know how to teach.
That had to do with the fact that they would be teaching minors. The
laws are strict to protect minors. Colleges are different--they
establish their own policies. However they will act in ways to maintain
or enhance their accreditation with accreditation bodies. These concerns
are not taken lightly.
I'm just presenting what I know or believe. I wasn't present at the
debate and am not even taking sides. I believe some states (including
LA?), started allowing professionals to teach a few years ago. I'm not
sure how that went. Perhaps someone can confirm.
I am Not saying that only a professional teacher can teach. I am saying
that my department is not willing to take the chance on someone that has
never taught a class before. It's just a matter of "prudence".
Plenty of things go astray every semester even without taking such risks.
Yes, but the notion of asking an education major to teach computer
science is absurd.
That is not what you said. YOu were making a general statement. The argument
is nuts anyway. There is no magic to teaching. ...well, other than having a
good grasp of the subject matter (something "professional teachers" *very*
often don't have).
"There is no magic to teaching. ...well, other than having a
good grasp of the subject matter"
If you took that attitude into the classroom you'd disappoint
everyone except yourself (seriously)! You may get away with it in a
class of graduate students, but at the other end of the spectrum you'll
encounter real issues if you are concerned about student success.
If you expess a sentiment like the one above during a teaching
interview, you won't be teaching.
Ironically, you don't need a "perfect understanding" of the subject
matter to be a good teacher. You might even be a better teacher if you
don't have it (and in many cases, concerning ever-changing technology
for instance, it's practically impossible to have it).
I hope you have a chance to teach someday, and I hope you get great
results! However, before you do so, you'll have to learn something
about teaching. The students will not applaud you over your knowledge,
no matter how vast--in fact, if it appears too vast, they will tune you
out even faster. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can be an
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