All right! The election insanity is over. I am personally thrilled by the outcome, and I assume the same holds for much of the blog’s readership. However, this place has never been about politics and I am not a sophisticated political thinker anyway, so let me just say I hope we can all exhale now, and I hope for a good 2021.

(I personally like Kamala Harris. I also liked Elizabeth Warren and Hilary Clinton. It pains me that women are always much more palatable when they play second fiddle to men. But that battle will likely take more time to win than I have on this planet.)

Back to regularly scheduled academic programming.

I believe we need to teach our students as best we can. To give them all we’ve got.

But not all university teachers do their job well, or care to. For example, I have several colleagues who, while nice people, definitely phone their teaching in.

There are also students who really just want to tunnel through to the degree, with as little effort and as little actual learning as possible. I will never understand this attitude.

And now the college powers that be keep talking how we may never go back to the old “instructional modalities,” how we need to keep offering online classes so the students can complete their degrees on time, from wherever they are. I understand during COVID, but where were these concerns before? What sprouted this sudden need to remotely educate hordes? As usual, when someone is trying to shove something illogical down your throat, it’s because there is money involved. The real reason behind anything shifty is always money.

We have students who just want to get to their degrees. Like those two who signed up for my in-person class (even though there is an online section, too) and never (not once!) showed up for class. What exactly are they getting out of it? We should not be supporting any of this.

But now the administration wants to just funnel bodies through the program, as quickly as possible, as many of them as possible, because each warm shoddily educated body is full tuition, the fact they know nothing be damned; the fact that this will erode the reputation of our institution be damned.

I want us to remain selective and excellent. I don’t want us to become a ridiculous diploma mill, in the name of “increasing revenue.”

God, I hate what is happening to my college so much.

How are you doing today, blogosphere? 


  1. You mention students who “just want to tunnel through to the degree, with as little effort and as little actual learning as possible.” Have you ever experienced that in a Ph.D. student? I have, in a few cases, of people who just wanted that Dr. before their name, for whatever career or personal goal, and didn’t really care what the research was about or what their thesis topic was; it was part of their life plan, though, to have a doctorate, and something that very much motivated them, so if they found an advisor who would give them a do-able topic- “why don’t you go figure out XYZ, no one’s done that before”- and they did, and successfully defended their dissertation four years later and moved on and as far as I know never touched the topic again, it was just a task for them to complete. Amazing.

  2. It’s been very interesting to see how ignorant our admin is about teaching. And I would include in that group all the pedagogy experts, who lecture us on the reg about the evils of lecturing, and seem to lack any experience teaching. So it’s no surprise that they think they’re going to harvest all our online course material, and offer our courses without us. Because that’s clearly the end game.

  3. @Anon, yeah, you’d think they hadn’t witnessed the demise of MOOCs. But I guess everyone’s pretending that never happened and somehow “100% remote asynchronous learning” isn’t the same goddamn thing as a MOOC. What will happen is that the elite places and those who can afford them will continue higher educated through small in-person classes, but for everyone else (“REVENUE!”) there will be 100s of students “learning asynchronously” and actually learn jack $hit.

    @Professor Hoople, yeah, I’d say there are quite a few such PhD students. They are far more ambitious than they are curious. They want the degree, while the topic and the study are secondary. They are always eager and usually (not always) capable, and can (usually) competently execute a well-delineated project that someone else (e.g., advisor) came up with; in fact, that’s what they crave, a clear project with detailed steps they can follow. They get very impatient and very frustrated (more than the average student) in the face of normal obstacles that occur during an open-ended research project. However, if they’re generally capable, they tend to do very well in the corporate world.

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