Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Under where?

One of the things they tell us to do in preparation for the job market is to have other people observe our teaching. (Where students don't count as people, clearly. Only colleagues count as people.) This is useful, obviously, for the immediate feedback you can get about how you're doing up there. But it's also good to have practiced being observed so that you don't freak out and lose your shit when you're doing a teaching demo during an on-campus interview. Fair enough.

So this one time a few years ago a colleague of mine was observing my teaching. Debriefing over beers later on, I'd thought the class had gone fairly well. He had a few minor tweaks to suggest. Making sure to call on people from both sides of the classroom. Some tips on how to get that guy to STFU. That sort of thing. Nothing big. But then he said, "Oh, and every time you turn your back to write on the board the entire class can see your thong."



Anonymous said...

Seriously, what were the tips to get that guy to STFU? This semester I'm dealing with a slightly different "that guy" - thinks he can argue circles around Kant (nope), goes off topic and says slightly offensive and really personal things. I'm having some success controlling/redirecting his comments, but it's hard to do that in a way that doesn't come off as dismissive.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least you're looking stylish?

On a separate topic, has anyone noticed that last week the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article about a company that ranks departments in different fields using measures like publications, citations to publications, grants received, etc.?

Their rankings for philosophy departments looked *very* different from Leiter's. (Though, to be fair, they confirm Leiter's high rank for his own department.)

The company is for-profit, and operates without biases for and against kinds of philosophy--so, e.g., they wouldn't value old fashioned analytical philosophy of language over the history of philosophy. So this company's rankings seem to show that there is nothing really substantive about Leiter. But at the same time Leiter captures what people think, and that's what matters in the job process.

As far as I can tell, Leiter hasn't commented--but now that he's looking at this blog (after the Inside Man's comments), maybe he will?

recent hire said...

Was the company Academic Analytics? Their methodology is really really bad -- see comment #3 there.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I tend to think the thong comment was the most valuable information... both for the classroom and for the job market :).

Grad Student said...

To anonymous #2: I remember seeing that ranking and noting that it differed from Leiter. I think that the relevant difference is that the ranking was solely quantitative, not qualitative. It ranked number of publications, not quality or influence of publications. While this might be covered by citations, it's not clear that there would not be a bias towards people who published many articles all of which had several citations, against someone who wrote one or two commonly cited articles.

Another issue is that it is unclear how the CHE is counting departments which have overlapping membership (within one university - two appointments in two different departments) and publications of joint members in other disciplines.

Also something to consider is that the Leiter rankings are not just for publications, but for teaching, placement, etc. The directive given to reviewers is: "Please give your opinion of the attractiveness of the faculty for a prospective student, taking in to account (and weighted as you deem appropriate) the quality of philosophical work and talent on the faculty, the range of areas the faculty covers, and the availability of the faculty over the next few years."

Surely a ranking of sheer quantitative information about publishing should not be expected to correlate with rankings on the basis of quality of work, talent of philosophy, breadth, and availability of faculty. It also should not be taken to impugn the gourmet rankings.

Just some thoughts.

New TT Prof said...

"But at the same time Leiter captures what people think, and that's what matters in the job process. "

I managed to get a TT job despite the overwhelming odds last year. I actually got rid of the futon, and am the proud owner of a couch.

I intentionally ignored almost everything about the Leiter Report in applying, because I came to believe that while he describes life in leading Ph.D. institutions or well-respected undergraduate institutions incredibly well, that it did not offer much information about the vast majority of the jobs that actually exist.

I never asked, but of the interviews that I had, I do not think that any of the institutions had any clue who Brian Leiter was, or what the PGR was. I think that this is changing as we younger fold take positions in and around higher education. But there are still a LOT of places with no awareness of our discipline's cultic practices. I rolled the dice and bet everything on an institution's caring about other things than the PGR.

Perhaps I was lucky, but I made it.

Keep up the shameless rants. I wish I had this last year. I wouldn't have had to pay for therapy.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 8:08,

Is the ranking in the Chronicle the one that puts Michigan State University as #1?

fellow grad student said...

Maybe he didn't see the whole thong thing as a problem..

Michael Cholbi said...

As for the STFU guy, there's one everywhere I'm afraid:

Anonymous said...

Could someone please provide a link to the Chronicle rankings? Thanks.

recent hire said...

I think that the relevant difference is that the ranking was solely quantitative, not qualitative. It ranked number of publications, not quality or influence of publications.

If this is the Academic Analytics one, aka the one that ranked Michigan State first, the other thing is that it ranked publications in a database of science journals. Which doesn't include, say, J Phil, Phil Rev, PPR, or Mind, though it does include other estimable and more obscure philosophy journals. Meaning that the stats it cites just won't tell you anything about who's publishing what in philosophy.

Nate said...


That story in the Onion is hilarious! I think I'll have my students read it the first day of class.

Anonymous said...

Just to give PGOAT her due, that Onion story is also linked in her original post (if you click on "that guy").

Career Networking said...

Wow!! A good idea to prepare for the job market!!