A Very Nice Post

…from WoC PhD. Excerpting:

“When an atmosphere of trust exists in a department, students are more likely to come to class prepared to learn and to take accountability for their actions, conflicts are likely to be at a minimum, and real problems that arise can be handled with maturity and proper sanction. Without trust, everything is a battle and everyone is trying to get their piece.  Sadly working in the latter environment will happen to you at least once in academe but maybe this article will help you and others shift the odds in the direction of the former.”

Read on; the entire post is excellent, including the piece she quotes.


13 thoughts on “A Very Nice Post

  1. The worst thing about administrators who don’t trust their colleagues, however, is the credence they tend to place in every negative comment or bit of gossip. Such administrators constantly call faculty members on the carpet because a single student (or another faculty member) has made an unsubstantiated complaint — even if the complaint itself is risible or if the faculty member’s history at the institution suggests that he or she deserves (at a minimum) the benefit of the doubt. Their attitude: If someone said it, there must be some truth to it.

    This kind of thing is rife in Australian society, and I think it is directly connected to a fixation on bourgeois purity. The bureaucrats here, of all shapes and colours, have the notion that being a good bureaucrat means bleeding out those who are under you, as a way of making them white and pure. Or rather, they are all on a quest for ‘improvement’ which disregards the contingent reality of human nature, and starts with the premise that an organisation or society is like a machine — that can only be improved through constant criticism. So the bureaucrats set themselves up as critics in a constant purifying drive.

    Such an approach, of course, makes “society” an entirely toxic prospect.

  2. Yes indeed. And this kind of quest for ‘improvement’ never questions the system, really – it is the cogs in the machine who need purification.

  3. Not only that, but the kind of purification rituals gone in for actually destroy, in many ways, the system that they are supposed to be purifying. This is not even an approach that works towards conservatism.

  4. Omigod. I have not noticed it get that bad here, but perhaps I am missing something. Here the system is being destroyed, or has been, but at least not by purification.

    I’ve been reading Maryse Condé, I TITUBA, BLACK WITCH OF SALEM, and in 17th century Salem, MA they do have destruction by purification.

  5. So, and unfortunately I think I keep having this same mundane insight again and again, but so any system, inherently, is going to grind people up.

  6. This is why one must always remember that a system is just a system.

    One should perhaps become an anarchist but it is very complicated. I am still just a socialist although this position is flawed.

  7. The purity thing is really strong here, somehow, probably because of the Australian cultural traditions. I don’t konw what it is, but I think that a lot of people here are trying to work off a feeling of abjection (through a sense of being a criminal caste or whatever) by purifying themselves through the exactitude of clerical work and so on. It’s a deeply masochistic feeling. And if you have a boss who is a masochist, he wants to purify you as well.

  8. Ah yes, that is right, Australians would have to prove
    their purity for that reason (the stigma of having been convicts). Masochistic, yes indeed. And masochistic bosses being the ones who wish to purify, that’s a great insight.

  9. Not all of them have to prove their purity, but some do. And it is a common enough drive with many males, in particular, of a certain age (around 50) who have relatively unimportant jobs, which they have probably worked at all their lives. Perhaps these are the ones who take revenge on others for the lack of career progress (their failure within the scope of the patriarchal ideal) by setting out to purify others? They think, “What do I have for all my efforts except for my own purity, my own empty shell?” Then they try to impose the same ordeal on to others.

  10. I need to remember this thing about idealism for the para-academic pieces I claim I will get out of these “What is a scholar?” posts. It relates to my rant(s) about form and style over substance, training over education, ‘professionalization’ over integrity, and standard analyses/responses over speaking to the materiality of an issue.

  11. Right. It’s sort of linked to modernist efficiency, though. If you stop to think, you get chewed up by the machine. (I imagine modernism as something like a runaway combined harvester. ) So people are victims of thinking in terms of efficiency, and even Heidegger’s attempt to nativise the masses in a kind of un-selfreflexive peasantitude has only made it worse.

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