Paul's Perambulations

July 13, 2011

Vocationalism, Academic Freedom and Tenure (NYTimes by Stanley Fish)

Filed under: Education,Politics,Work — admin @ 8:47 pm

My Comment on this article was the following:

The admiral notion of self-improvement and the perhaps more-realistic notion of occupational survival have resulted in great growth and concomitant change in so-called “higher” education. My concern with tenure is not with its principles but with its misuse.

It is not job protection, but intellectual freedom protection (inherent to the purpose of a true University). My sense has been that faculty have tenure power (employed either rightly or wrongly) if they are unionized, while the situation is reversed if they are not. The contracts may be the same or similar – much mischief is done by the enforcement (and that is what is subject to power struggles).

I am amazed at Fish’ apparent neglect to recognize that education is as needful of academic freedom as research. Otherwise, what’s the point of ever doing the research if it cannot be spoken of and published to the world?  It is appropriate to my profession that I speak in class of academic issues with significant moral implications. I believe that it would be worse than negligence of me not to do so, including my understanding of the material and inviting questions. Tenure protects such intellectual freedom. In my department, rank orderings of student satisfaction measures have become the essential basis for adjunct employment. Gotta be  popular. The memorandum announcing this policy acknowledged that there are good and bad aspects to this approach, but settled on the practical/money side of the matter.

 

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