10.2.04

IST'S NICHT EIN HAUFEN MIST? Academy Girl has a new post up, and I want the name of this person. There are some jacks not yet assigned. Get this, this person said, "Tenured people teaching at the graduate level and doing graduate level work and courses work much "harder" than the sessionals at the "lower" level." This person is so clueless I don't even know where to begin fisking him. Tenured people teaching at the graduate level are talking about their own research, or at least they OUGHT to be, albeit not exclusively. They are working with self-selected acolytes who ought to have some sense about why they're in the field and what the important questions are. (Perhaps I'm assuming too much. That is true to an extent in economics.) Let's see, doing what you want and hanging out with people who want to know something about it? That's harder work?

Compare and contrast that with the people enrolled in the lower level class. Here the professor or the adjuncts (is "sessional" a Canadian term, like "chesterfield" or "hoser?") are working with other-selected congregants who may or may not have any sense about why they are in the class and they may have no idea what the important questions in that discipline are. (I hear this lament from people who have taken economics in college and hated it all the time.) A good teacher in such a course HAS to have time to take questions, because the students will have questions. It is a crime to treat these classes as cash cows to be set up as large lectures with quiz sections, where there are few to no opportunities to take questions. Furthermore, a good teacher in such a course HAS to be able to distinguish a truly clueless question (which calls for some convex combination of firmness and patience, which differs from student to student) from a subtle but not well posed question (and these DO come up.) That is less hard work? Give. Me. A. Break.

For the record, I will teach economics at all levels in an academic year, from an introductory level price theory (principles of microeconomics, for those of you in Dane County) which is often a real joy to teach, through the limited industrial economics offerings we have (an antitrust class and a rejuvenated public utilities class) and the first graduate level price theory class (where I had to crack down today on students submitting answers consisting of derivations with no expository sentences.) And I have long maintained (learned it from my father years ago) that it is a mistake to put inexperienced professors -- let alone graduate students, or hires picked up on the fly -- in front of introductory level students. Consider an Army in which the recruit's first encounter with basic training is with a recently trained PFC. Well, maybe you don't want to consider that, ponyemayite?

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