Thursday, March 6, 2008

Time Can never Mend the Careless Whispers of a Good Friend

Via Yglesias, it looks like John McCain thinks students should be "at the center" of their education. Student-centered education, huh? What the fuck? That's my idea. Who leaked my teaching philosophy to the McCain campaign?

51 comments:

Asstro said...

Favorite quotes? How about this pair:

"The deplorable status of preparation for our children, particularly in comparison with the rest of the industrialized world, does not allow us the luxury of eliminating options in our educational repertoire." {snip}

{snip} "John McCain believes our schools can and should compete to be the most innovative, flexible and student-centered - not safe havens for the uninspired and unaccountable."

Yep, cuz that's what the rest of the industrialized world does. When you're lagging behind the rest of the industrialized world, it's best not to look at what those guys are doing, but to _completely reinvent the entire fucking wheel._

Anonymous said...

i haven't read yggles on the topic, but my guess is that "student-centered" education, far from being a tautology, is a code-word for several different right-wing polemics:

1) bash the teachers unions.

this is a perennial right-wing crusade.

2) facilitate religious instruction.

e.g., suppose your secular, science worshiping curriculum wants to teach about things like evolution, and my little johnnie doesn't want to learn about them. well then, a "student-centered" curriculum will say that johnnie should not have to pass tests about your wicked idolatry, and instead he can lead a prayer-group during those lessons.

mccain is currently conducting a fire-sale of the soul--everything must go before november! if there's any chance that "student-centered" is dog-whistle for "pandering to the vilest elements of the religious right", then that would be your safest bet with mccain right now.

Anonymous said...

Alright, Leiter, calm down now...

D. Cheney said...

As George Dubyah would put it, "Is our children learning?"

Anonymous said...

Unrelatedly, is it just me, or are the new TT hires on Leiter's blog unimpressive? Grads from "top-ranked" departments are going to no-name schools or at least schools well "beneath" them in the rankings.

Does this say anything about the job market?...or maybe that these candidates were not the best in class?

Anonymous said...

Anon. 3:10,

Give me a break. I think that supporters of the left and right need to move beyond sickening self-righteous rants (which are especially prevalent in the very liberal leaning academic world).

Anonymous said...

i wrote 3:10, and i'm not leiter.

and if i were, i would have signed the damned thing. he may rant as much as i did, and he may froth at the mouth as much as i did, but he has never shown any hesitation about doing so over his own name.

Anonymous said...

Hey 3:10....did it ever occur to your feeble gray-cells that "student centered" education Mccain might just mean...I don't know...education that places the need of the INDIVIDUAL STUDENT and not those of "students in general" or students qua statistical data in the fore? Call it "singular education" if you like. Frankly, I think the teachers unions need shook up, if my undergrads piss-poor writing and critical thinking skills are any indication of the teachers union's present level of accomplishment. Instead of throwing more money at a system that does not work, why not change the fucking model?

Diclaimer: I was privately educated until High School, and attended a both private, public, and european Universities, so I may be expecting too much from college level writing. (but I doubt it)

Anonymous said...

"Unrelatedly, is it just me, or are the new TT hires on Leiter's blog unimpressive? Grads from "top-ranked" departments are going to no-name schools or at least schools well "beneath" them in the rankings.

Does this say anything about the job market?...or maybe that these candidates were not the best in class?"

1) It's far from over, and the vast majority of the higher-profile jobs are not settled yet.

2) Not everyone's preferences map onto the Leiter report rankings. Some of us have higher priorities than impressing people such as yourself.

Anonymous said...

I'd be surprised if most top-50 haven't at least tendered their first offer. It's almost mid-March and Spring Break is nigh upon us. If by settled you mean not everyone has accepted the first round of offers, that may be true.

Anonymous said...

3:10:

it's called "sarcasm." i had no doubt that leiter would sign his name to such self-righteous trash. reckon i was hoping to shame you. though apparently to no avail.

Fredric Jameson said...

I'm afraid I have to agree that the term "student-centered education" is indeed a code-word for a whole complex of conservative strategies.

Religion can be one of these, but only in the way that it takes away the power of the intellectual class to maintain authority in the classroom. So as belief comes to cover more and more of the student's personal set of "knowledge," and as belief (and other already-extant knowledges brought to the classroom by the student) becomes unassailable, the intellectual finds his/herself to be boxed in, and unable to think of education as "subject formation." Influence on belief becomes in a sense illegal, and instructors become utterly interchangeable and replaceable.

I also agree that it's opposed to the unions-- it's opposed to any ideology of education that holds the position of the educator be a product of intellectualism and specialized training (i.e. a highly individualized position) rather than something that can ultimately become managed by corporate forms of organization...

Anonymous said...

"Not everyone's preferences map onto the Leiter report rankings. Some of us have higher priorities than impressing people such as yourself."

Riiiiight. Let's look at some of the hires:

Rutgers --> Augustana College
UCLA --> Cal State, Chico
Indiana --> Siena College
Duke --> Baruch College
Cornell --> Lycoming College
Michigan --> Cal State, Northridge

And so on. I don't care if they have a 1/1 teaching load and can live close to their family...no one willingly wants to live in Chico or wants to be associated with Lycoming College (who??) unless they have no/few other options.

I understand the desire to defend the honor of some of these "lesser" colleges. I don't put too much stock in the Leiter rankings either, but c'mon now, some of these moves make no sense if you don't assume the candidate is desperate and/or that the job market is hypercompetitive this year.

jimmyjimmycocoapuff said...

I am a devoted liberal, but I must take issue with the claim that it is "right-wing polemic" to "bash the teachers unions".

There are valid arguments to be made, some of which I consider sound, that the teachers' unions bear significant fault for the failures of our primary and secondary education systems.

humble said...

Wow, privately educated, and attended European university! That does explain the lofty standards.

I guess genitive apostrophes are the sort of trivia that the privately and Europeanly educated can't be bothered with.

B. Stein said...

What if we could get some of the folks from top-20 programs who took "lesser" job offers to explain their circumstances? Anyone? Bueller?...

Anonymous said...

sometimes people claim that evil liberals in the humanities have driven conservatives out of the academy.

after reading this thread, it's pretty clear that this claim is false.

there are still a lot of right-wing morons left in the academy, and some of them even read philosophy blogs.

Philosophy Prof said...

There have been cases in the last few years (documented on the Leiter-blog update) where a person turns down a plum tt-job for a much "lesser" job, for family or other personal reasons, but these are unusual indeed. The market just stinks, and the absolute best folks from Leiterific places will get the fancy jobs, and a lot of the rest of the people from the Leiterific places (really, really good people) will get a lot of the next set of jobs. "Lesser" schools often like to hire such candidates, so that they can think that they have up-and-coming programs that are attracting the best people, or so that they can impress their dean, or even just so that they can feel good about themselves. But these hires at the "lesser" schools will go on the market almost immediately, and then those jobs will open up again, and probably go to a person from a lower-ranked program with some VAPs (or else the turnover would continue indefinitely).

But do remember that in a lot of these cases what matters is not so much the Leiter-ranking as the prestige of the PhD program, and once we are out of the super-prestigious range (which roughly corresponds with some of the 1-20 on the Leiter list), schools are pretty much seen as on a par.

Anonymous said...

I'd be surprised if most top-50 haven't at least tendered their first offer. It's almost mid-March and Spring Break is nigh upon us. If by settled you mean not everyone has accepted the first round of offers, that may be true.

Most have, but not all have.

Anonymous said...

In response to Anon 3/7, 6:05 p.m.:

And so on. I don't care if they have a 1/1 teaching load and can live close to their family...no one willingly wants to live in Chico or wants to be associated with Lycoming College (who??) unless they have no/few other options.

Are you serious? I'd take a lower-echelon school with a light teaching load that is nearby family (i.e., free baby-sitters) and where I have a good shot at tenure and more time for my research over a more prestigious yet more demanding institution any day.

Don't sell some of the schools that you mention short. That said, I do seem to recall that at least some of them have rather high teaching loads, and who knows how well they pay.

Now that I've come to their defense, perhaps some of these schools would like to hire me?

tenured philosophy girl said...

I suspect 10:20 is the same right wing apologist troll who, on a recent thread, bashed me while frothing at the mouth for supporting the benefits of day care. I suggest we not encourage this line of conversation, or any other that starts with gratuitous insults and political sloganeering.

Anonymous said...

6:05:

You're an idiot. Plenty of these liberal arts colleges that you've never heard of have better terms than much larger middling universities, especially at the junior level.

If the teaching load is lower (or the same) and the pay is much better, and the location is acceptable, why the hell wouldn't someone "want to be associated" with schools that you in your gleeful ignorance have never heard of. What IS the prize, exactly? If not a good job at good terms, then what? Certainly not impressing a pissant anonymous poster on a blog.

For what it's worth, I know that at least two of those hires you listed had offers from schools that I'm pretty sure you've heard of. They didn't like the location and/or the money. That's all.

Anonymous said...

"Does this say anything about the job market?...or maybe that these candidates were not the best in class?"

There is a small group of candidates who have locked up a surprising number of the top offers this year. A few places have deadlines coming up soon, so things should start to break over the next few weeks.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? Let's look at Rutgers the past two years: TT jobs at UCLA, UC Davis, UMass, Purdue, Western Washington, Kansas, Arizona State, USC, Oxford, Toronto and post-docs at NYU, Cornell, UMass, and Rochester.

So how about you wait until job season is over before you start making claims about schools underperforming.

http://philosophy.rutgers.edu/GRAD/placement.php

Anonymous said...

http://www.lycoming.edu/Philosophy/faculty.htm

'nuff said

Two of the (three) faculty bios mention golf.

Anonymous said...

by comparison: http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/wsas/departments/philosophy/faculty/index.html, much better. Not all colleges whose names you don't recognize are created equal.

Anonymous said...

By all means let's bash teachers' unions--they are unions, after all, and the corporations have taught us how awful those are.

But has anyone here tried to deny that McCain is conducting, as 3:10 put it, a "firesale of the soul"?

He really is selling off any shreds of his former integrity, isn't he? Piece by pathetic piece?

Here's the guy who once stood up to the Falwells and Robertsons, now groveling for their blessing. The guy whose family was smeared by Rove, now sucking up to Bush.

I mean, can even you Republicans out there ignore the sickening stench of terminal pandering that arises from the rotting corpse of the McCain campaign?

It's a sad, sad spectacle, really, especially if you did once have some respect for him.

But since you can't deny all that, maybe you'd rather get back to bashing those bad old teachers unions, huh?

Bobcat said...

Anonymous 6:05: If having a low teaching load and living close to one's family is unimportant, what is important?

Anonymous said...

I think this thread concerning the meaning of 'student centered education' is completely hilarious. Come on, it is obviously a vacuous statement meant to be interpreted favorably by everyone who hears it.

Seriously, a lot of us here are on the philosophy job market... getting a job often depends on using phrases like this one... phrases that no one could possibly disagree with, but which have no clear consensus concerning its definition.

What you attribute to this phrase depends largely on your political leanings. But, seriously, if claiming that schools shouldn't be 'safe havens for the uninspired and unaccountable' = bashing the teachers unions, then maybe the unions deserved to be bashed.

Chico Bound said...

I don't care if they have a 1/1 teaching load and can live close to their family...no one willingly wants to live in Chico or wants to be associated with Lycoming College (who??) unless they have no/few other options.

Wow. Just wow.

Anon 6:05, are you one of those tools that give this profession a bad name, or just channeling one for fun?

Anonymous said...

Some of you may have already seen this, but I thought that it's worth posting anyway. Looks like the Community College Dean's advice is even stiffer than PGS's.

Anonymous said...

Not only is the job market far from over, but Leiter's blog does not capture the whole thing. If last year is any example, there will be a significant number of jobs that never get posted there. And if I had to guess, I would guess that people who do best on the job market tend to be least likely to be worried about how other people are doing, and hence are less likely to read (and post on) job market-related blogs and threads. So it wouldn't surprise me if many of the most competitive jobs never show up on Leiter's blog. But that's just an unsupported speculation.

Going beyond that, here's (in my view) how things work. If you want a tenure-track job at a ranked Ph.D. program, then you'd better come from a top program, and preferably one that is higher-ranked than (or at least a peer to) the one you're applying to. But coming from a highly ranked program is no guarantee of anything. For one thing, there's a wide variation in productivity, preparedness (e.g., finished diss), and even raw talent among PhDs from the top schools. For another, it's a numbers game. There are probably 100+ people on the market this year from the top 25 schools alone. Are there 100 jobs that are "better" than the ones listed by Anon 6:05? There are lots of very talented people at the kinds of places that Anon 6:05 mentions. At the Cal State school where I interviewed, one assistant professor was about to publish his second book.

So is the job market hyper-competitive? Yes. Is it more competitive this year than most years? Not necessarily.

jimmyjimmycocoapuff said...

NEW JOB MARKET ANALYSIS (9 MAR.)

(Definitions: (1) 'Leiterrific' schools are among the top 21 in the English-speaking world; (2) 'Leiteranked' schools are among the top 47 (and are not Leiterrific); (3) 'Unranked' schools are just that--unranked.)

--64 philosophers have gained either tenure-track or post-doc. employment.
--38% of them are from Leiterrific schools.
--17% of them are from Leiteranked schools.
--45% of them are from unranked schools.

--8 philosophers have gained either tenure-track or post-doc. employment at excellent places. (An 'excellent place' is either (1) Leiterrific, (2) Leiteranked, (3) Byrn Mawr, or (4) Brandeis.)
--38% of them are from Leiterrific schools.
--13% of them are from Leiteranked schools.
--50% of them are from unranked schools.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:05,

I can't believe you're actually singling out specific candidates and saying "these guys got bad jobs." Their *names* are on the Leiter blog.

Anonymous said...

I *hope* that the number of folks from high-ranked Leiter programs getting less than prestigious jobs suggests that the profession at large is starting to get over those rankings (with their absurd overemphasis on so-called "core" areas of analytic philosophy), and pay attention to other factors (like how much philosophy do they really know?), but I suspect that when the dam bursts it'll look like more of the same. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

DUDE! What happened to the blog?!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of language--I just had to share this rejection letter from Cal State San Bernadino's English Department:

Dear (addresses applicant by first name only),

Please forgive our long silence. With so many (hundreds and hundreds!) of qualified and attractive applicants for our handful of positions, we've been reluctant to clang shut the gates of possibility until our various searches have, in their various ways, been concluded. But now our searches are over, and we can no longer withold the melancholy news that you will not be the dubious beneficiary (given the foundering California budget) of one of our job offers.

We hope that your own search has been fruitful, and we thank you for your interest in our position. Good luck!

No signature, just name of search committee chair.

This was simply worth one good laugh....

Anonymous said...

Is this thing still on?....

Anonymous said...

Boy, people have short memories around here. How many times do the authors and commenters on this blog have to demonstrate that people from highly ranked Leiter schools do not necessarily get jobs at highly ranked (or even plain-old ranked) schools before people finally get it?

I'm at a top-5 school. Around here, you hope to get one TT job offer. Any more than one is a luxury. That one job offer could be anywhere. And when you've only got one, you can't be picky. Baruch? Lycoming? Chico? Siena? Sign me up! Sounds great! I know someone who really wanted one of those jobs but didn't get it because their first choice accepted the offer--some of these schools don't even have to look deeper than their first-ranked candidate. Obviously the market is very competitive. Schools you've never heard of can pick off job candidates from the top schools like it's nothing.

Like an earlier poster said, there is huge variability among the grad students even at tippy top programs. There's variability in talent, variability in time-to-degree, variability in the marketability of someone's project, variability in their teaching records, variability in their personalities and collegiality, variability in their AOS's and advisors and degree to which these match the particular strengths of the program, ETC. There are people who occasionally get fancy jobs, but there are people who get no jobs. You have a fairly good sense of which people are destined for the former and which for the latter, but nothing is set in stone. You can have shiny credentials and be a good interviewer and get 15 APA interviews and 12 flybacks and zero, yes, zero offers. I've seen it happen. You can be anointed as the Next Big Thing and have interviews at Top Five schools, but then end up with offers only from unranked schools with halfway decent masters programs.

Not least, I'll repeat what others have said--the Leiter thread is incomplete. Many people with offers are still in negotiations. And many people who have accepted offers just haven't had their job posted on the thread. If you want to know how a Leiterrific school does on the market, look at their placement record over a 5-year period. The Leiter thread is a horrible way to collect evidence and draw conclusions about the correlation between the prestige of the degree-granting school and the prestige of the job.

Mr. Zero said...

anon 1:23,

Hear, hear.

inquiring mind said...

I agree with Anon 8:43pm ... It's both infantile and cruel to single out specific institutions and specific individuals. Grow up and cut it out.

Anonymous said...

That's some straight shootin', there, anon 9:05. It reminded me of the Buffalo Beast's take on McCain.

He reached the coveted top spot on the Beast's 2006 "50 most loathsome people in America":

1. John McCain

Charges: The most consistently mischaracterized politician in the country, even McCain's most nakedly self-serving machinations are universally hailed as the bold moves of an independent maverick who really, really, like, cares, man. By virtue of his five-year stay at the Hanoi Hilton and a completely ineffectual campaign finance reform bill (which was itself only PR damage control for his long-forgotten role in the Keating Five), McCain has so successfully snowed America that he could go around kicking puppies all day and he'd be applauded for his authenticity. In reality, McCain is as phony as slimeballs come, having reversed his positions on Roe v. Wade, Bush's tax cuts, the gay marriage amendment and Jerry Falwell in the last year alone, while the mainstream press looked away and whistled nonchalantly. Keeps changing the number of additional troops he thinks should be sent to Iraq, in hopes of extending the disaster beyond the next presidential election, so his decorated veteran status will still be relevant.

Exhibit A: "I hated the gooks, and I will hate them for as long as I live."

Sentence: Back to the bamboo cage.

Anonymous said...

It's both infantile and cruel to single out specific institutions and specific individuals.

Who singled out individuals? I didn't see any names named. But if you went to Leiter's blog to dig around, then that's your own curiousity.

And while I can understand not singling out individuals, what's wrong with naming institutions (which has been done plenty on this blog)?

Anonymous said...

6:55, go back to studying for your comps for the second time. There's no pride being willfully ignorant of academic institutions when you're in an academic market. I'm guessing you're just a garden-variety internet douchebag, taking potshots at named people behind the veil of anonymity. It would be foolishness to take anything you say -- because clearly you haven't been on the market-- at all seriously.

Anonymous said...

"(3) Byrn Mawr, or (4) Brandeis"

Excellent places? Are you on crack?

Anonymous said...

"'Lesser' schools often like to hire such candidates, so that they can think that they have up-and-coming programs that are attracting the best people, or so that they can impress their dean, or even just so that they can feel good about themselves. But these hires at the 'lesser' schools will go on the market almost immediately, and then those jobs will open up again, and probably go to a person from a lower-ranked program with some VAPs (or else the turnover would continue indefinitely)."

Sometimes, the turnover does continue indefinitely, or until the people hired from good programs turn out to be duds and get stuck in their first job, only to watch more marketable people hired later leave the department after a couple of years.

Not surprisingly, this sort of situation breeds a lot of resentment on the part of the frogs left in the bucket. Witness the bitter rantings on this blog of people (well, ok, one person and a sockpuppet!) back in November against anyone who would consider applying for another job from a TT position. This resentment, which can poison a department and further contribute to the departure of marketable people, can destroy a department--a risk that lower ranked schools should be aware of when hiring.

Just my 2c observation!

brick is red said...

""(3) Byrn Mawr, or (4) Brandeis"

Excellent places? Are you on crack?"

These are excellent places. I'd take a job at Bryn Mawr over one at many of the ranked schools.

6:55 again said...

Hi 9:17,

Actually, I'm tenure-tracked at a top 50 Leiterrific school. So your powers of deduction are superb. Why don't you try answering the questions I posed, rather than be a jackass? Or is it that you have no good answers in defense?

9:17 said...

I did call you a douchebag, which I guess makes me a jackass. But it's only because you expect answers to troublingly stupid questions that could be paraphrased "is the market competitive" "are these six people retarded? anyone who knows them, please advise" and "what is wrong with taking potshots at graduate students whose identities can be found with no effort whatsoever", that's all.

I assumed you didn't need answers to those questions, because you cannot be serious.

I note, assuming that you are the OP, that many people have asked you why people should not take these jobs, but you have only managed to (1) say that you don't put much stock in the rankings and (2) brag about your "top 50 Leiterrific" job, whatever that rank is supposed to convey, given the number of schools ranked. At least it seems clear you must be telling the truth about that.

Robert Gressis said...

Oh come on, 6:55: when you list a person P's home institution as well as the school P got a job at, and then wonder why P got a job at that terrible school (maybe P is just a dud of a graduate student or just desperate?), then you can't exactly say that you're not singling out individuals. It would be like saying, "the 36th person listed under the TT thread at the Leiter Reports is a dingbat. But I'm not singling anyone out!"

Anonymous said...

I'm hesitant to mention any school by name here, since I don't want to give some of the rude people here another opportunity to say shitty things about them or the people they hired. But I will say two things:

1. I interviewed with one of the schools listed by 6:05 as places one wouldn't want to go. I found the faculty to be very nice and very sharp. I was surprised by the large number of majors they had. It seemed to me that the goods intrinsic to the discipline of philosophy were present there. I also found that the housing prices would allow someone on the salary there to buy a quality house (that narrows down the list a bit). I have no doubt I would have been happy there and flourished. The move to this particular school would make total sense, even with other, more reputable options, if the person is looking to work in a place where the goods intrinsic to philosophy are present and thinks that those goods are there to a greater degree than they are at the more reputable places.

2. And now, to mention a school by name: I wanted the Northridge job. I didn't interview with them, but I really wanted to. I'm surprised to see it listed here.