In Which I Am Unfit to Teach

So our student, an undergraduate, writes in Wikipedia, opines on websites, and gives invited lectures on topics in which she has expertise. People are scandalized. She does not have the degrees which would confer the authority to speak.

Only I am unperturbed. I would say we are all involved in the same enterprise, and that she participates from her chronotope, so to speak, as each of the rest of us does from ours. This is in my view the rational opinion. It is also the minority one.

The academic box appears to be equipped with a rope which is placed firmly around my neck. Suéltenme. Sáquenme de este antro.


8 thoughts on “In Which I Am Unfit to Teach

  1. No, it’s out of interest. Professors do it for free too, and put it on their annual reports. Depending on what it is, it may or may not help qualify them for raises. It is “activity” and it shows “intellectual and/or pedagogical engagement” and/or “community service in a professional capacity.”
    My beef is the academic investment in hierarchy and false authority.

    Addendum: This is of course related to my post on graduate school, written in response to many others’ posts on graduate school, in which some said they got psychically deconstructed so they could then be turned into professors … and some said it did them good (although others did not).

    I learned that some of the bad behavior I observed from a few quarters toward the end of graduate school was this type of hazing. I had never understood it until reading those posts. I had always thought it was just a few social misfits interested in the career, but not the work, or desirous of the career and yet not quite up to the work, or otherwise unquiet and odd, acting out. Now I realize it was just a pedagogical technique – and one I disagree with.

  2. I have been on the other side of this “not-credentialed to speak” absurdity. One example: I was working as a research assistant at a university in an institute that was trying to up it’s image by going after more federal grants rather than the piddling state stuff, having to do mostly with child welfare issues. Most of the people in my office were lawyers or social workers. I was a lowly nothing, just BA type person, but I had attended graduate school, taken and passed 16 course, passed qualifying exams for a PhD, taught a variety of undergraduate courses etc etc etc, all in developmental psychology. I even had a published piece of research in a distinguished journal, but I hadn’t finished my PhD and my program did not give out masters degrees. So I had no credentials to do what I was asked to do at work, that is write the literature reviews for federal grants. I wrote the reviews. They were competent. One of my MSW colleagues, a particularly nasty woman, told me I had no right to be doing the work I was doing because it was not in my job description, people in my position should stick to grunt work (she didn’t say that, only the not in my job description part, but it is what she meant). My not having finished my dissertation, in this woman’s opinion, negated any skills that I might possess. Without the initials to place after my name I was supposed to keep quiet and not presume.

  3. CS – yes. And “Whatever!” is the right response! I am fuming because I just got a long lecture about it … and because I am depressed and not able to put things in perspective, OR perhaps more properly because I am ODing on academic silliness. So I will repeat after you: “Whatever!”

    JFR – So an MSW – with a lot less education than you – told you that?!

    1. A smart B.A. can write literature reviews.

    2. In my program you would have picked up two degrees – M.A. and C. Phil. (Candidate in Philosophy).

    3. Generally speaking, I cannot abide MSW’s. These people do more harm than good from what I can tell, and what they learn in their paltry graduate program is to feel superior to others for no good reason.

    4. The MSW is not a research degree, in the first place, it is a technical one/para-professional one. And every decent student I have had who has gone on to this degree has been shocked at the low intellectual level of faculty in that school / that department.

    5. Most people with this degree could not think themselves out of a paper bag, I have found – although that may just be my experience. They also tend to be very jealous and supercilious.

  4. obviously these folks haven’t read freire, or your website. 🙂

    while in nola, a psychologist came and lectured the volunteer org i was with about racial dynamics and i sure schooled her. she didn’t know who fanon was! i mean, it is one think for me not to know but for a racial theory psychologist! she was from tulane.

  5. jfr: that is tired.

    0: have we not taught out students this sort of behavior? Smoke and mirrors. A true apprenticeship in research is what I would love to see instead of the current graduate school selection process and evaluation.

    luisa: a race/psyche specialist with absolutely no knowledge of Fannon? I would have wanted my money back. That is like a physicist not knowing who Albert Einstein is?

    More later.

  6. “A true apprenticeship in research is what I would love to see instead of the current graduate school selection process and evaluation.”


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