Queenan, tellingly, limits his snarking to Pittsburgh, the Capital Region of North Carolina, and other soft targets. Let's do some serious comparisons. Consider his put-down Stamford for its commuter train access to Manhattan. Imagine gales of laughter. Metra on a bad day is better than Metro-North on a good day. Allowing for easy access, Greater DeKalb (read: Chicago) beats New York for economics departments, orchestras, art (what is the most famous painting in the United States?), baseball stadiums, swimmable beaches, financial markets, and freight trains. (There is also direct rapid-transit access to the Loop from three airports, and a New York-style shuttle bus connection at a fourth, should you wish to fact-check me on the ground.)
There might be more to the puzzle than meets the eye. Professor Laura correctly notes that there is a price premium to houses in better school districts, which ought to be part of the bid-rent curve. But a colleague active in local politics tells me something more: in the sprawling parts of Greater DeKalb (west and northwest Chicagoland, to those of you east of the Fox River) the zoning boards sometimes mandate larger lots on parcels recently annexed or zoned for development, in order to reduce the strain on school districts and the water system. (There is a whole line of research on whether or not suburban development pays sufficient taxes to provide for the additional government services, which I leave to the reader to find as an exercise.)
Professor Laura also comments here and here on second-wave feminism's effect on women and child-rearing, linking to an Atlantic review of Arlie Hochschild's Commercialization of Intimate Life (details or compare prices) that Milt's File commends, potentially for other reasons. The subtext in all three of the Apt. 11d posts I mention remains the middle class squeeze (I think, more accurately, the yupscale squeeze,) and I offer a bit of related reading. Cornell's Robert Frank wrote Luxury Fever, a lament for the relentless raising of the bottom-end product (we'll argue another day about whether that's profligacy or progress -- the book details and price comparison are enough.) In the course of writing the book he suggested that something along the lines of sumptuary laws or consumption taxes might be of use. U.S.A. Weekend's Jean Chatzky offers a different set of suggestions. I can relate to this: "I grew up in Wisconsin, the daughter of academics. We lived in a modest house on a street filled with kids. Thinking back, there were lots of signs that money wasn't plentiful during most of my adolescence. For entertainment, my parents and their friends had potlucks and bridge nights, alternating houses." She doesn't mention pitching a tent on vacation trips, or five people sharing one bathtub and one toilet. Our neighbors perceived my folks as rich because we had mostly new furniture (not counting the stuff my parents built themselves, or restored) and we kids got some new school clothes each year. No air-conditioned land barge (the SUV can only tow a yacht, it cannot be one) or private bath -- not to mention hot tub -- in Mom and Dad's bedroom or sitting room nobody sat in. Did I mention we were home-schooled? If you check the Milwaukee Public School records you might think otherwise, but we were all reading at the age of three or four, and I knew more computation tricks before I started first grade than I did by the time they finished with me. (Rediscovered most of them, Allah be praised.)
The final 11-d post of interest is a from-the-belly view of work life. I repeat ... there are gains from trade in coming up with alternatives to the tournament treadmill, we will pay you a lot but we will own you, and I bet a mandatory 35 hour work week isn't the quickest way to discover them. (Summer has passed, and with it the "early Friday getaway" rush hours on the expressways leading to Greater DeKalb (or more suitably, toward Wisconsin) but I bet there's some give to the treadmill around the edges, not all of it for family emergencies.)
SUPERINTENDENT'S NOTE: The above post has been revised for content and punctuation on September 30.
There is a complete set of instructions for this activity in an issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives from the early 1990s.
This statement by Vernon Smith's colleague Charles Plott is a good insight into the maturation of economists: "Economists tend to become economists so that they can think about big things, like international trade relations and the global economy. The profession simply wasn’t prepared to think about these simple ideas." Perhaps not at the time, but the lure of the nagging small problems, and the insights gleaned from working them through, contribute greatly to the development of economics.
SECOND SECTION: (What, no Fourth 28 tonight?) Jacob at Volokh Conspiracy has an extended post that motivates the Crescat Sententia post referenced above; note in particular the many possible reasons an academician might have to blame "system bias" for personal failure. The reason to pursue an academic career in the first place is to answer the calling, the priestly concept of "vocation" might not be far off, and the day to stop pursuing it is the day it stops being fun.
National Capital is an interesting place to visit, as its operating tracks bridge Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, and the museum has limited acquisitions to streetcars.
UPDATE: Baltimore Sun coverage, a statement from the Museum, and some photographs provided by Museum member Paul Henry, quoted in the original post. Sources: members respectively of the Yahoo traction and O Scale Trains discussion lists.
Or, in bumper sticker language: It Takes a Village. If the Village has all the redeeming features of a hippie commune combined with the Projects, good luck.
(On the other hand, are most people so out of tune to the preferred private times of the members of their social circle that spontaneous action couldn't defeat the telemarketers? Imagine everybody turning their telephone ringers off from 5.30 pm to 7 pm, or ignoring all rings and letting them go to voice mail or the answering machine.)
Some other times, there is a median voter, but the median might best be represented as the mean and mode of a bell curve, in which case there are gradations of agree or disagree that have to be on board to get a majority that includes the mean. In such cases a compromise of some kind is possible (does that include the exemption for charitable and political fundraising callers?) that will make people who strongly agree (because it has been watered down) or strongly disagree (because it is there) with the compromise angry. That compromise includes people whose positions are 1.5 standard deviations or less from the mean, assuming such a metric is possible. Perhaps that's why the angriest delegates in the House are those from districts with a lot of housing projects or a lot of religious fundamentalists, moving from left to right.
The hardest problem arises when preferences have two modes. That's where Chicago Report's worst case scenario really bites: "As the stakes increase so does the controversy. So ultimately, for important changes to be made, legislation has to [be] 'rammed down the throat' of the opposition. Gridlock serves the vital function of requiring the winning side to be a little more than just 51%." The stakes are likely to be higher (or in politicized departments with fighting factions, where the stakes by definition are small) and the opportunities to arrange a compromise that includes 51% of the votes diminish.
"Italy blamed France. France denied responsibility but then said an investigation showed a disabled power line in Switzerland set off a chain reaction of outages.
"Swiss authorities said a tree that touched a high voltage power line and disrupted supplies in Switzerland could have been partly to blame. And heavy storms in southeastern France near the Italian border might have been a factor, officials initially said."
Brooks quotes Volokh Conspiracy's Jacob Levy, whose impressions mirror mine. "And Jacob T. Levy, a libertarian also at Chicago, says some conservatives exaggerate the level of hostility they face. Some politicized humanities departments may be closed to them, he concedes, but professors in other fields are open to argument."
I'd go further. Why would any rational conservative, or rational liberal, or political position n.e.c., for that matter, want to get into an academic field where the conventional wisdom is that a large car, or a shopping center open all night, is a "profligate" waste of energy, but the production of four or five times as many Ph.D.s as will get onto the tenure track is not?
SECOND SECTION: Invisible Adjunct provides commentary and additional links.
THIRD SECTION: Critical Mass and OxBlog report from the belly of the monster.
"Don't look for anyone in SMU's administration to appreciate this point voluntarily. Don't look, either, for them to realize that by shutting the sale down, SMU has helped the Young Conservatives of Texas make an even stronger point about the true logic of 'diversity' that exists at their institution and at many like it across the country. The media are now spreading a message about institutional hypocrisy and double standards surrounding politics and race that readily tops the message the bake sale--whose total profit was $1.50--was originally meant to send."
Tightly Wound opens up a can on the young man whose objections to the sale led to Southern Methodist's closing the sale down. "Perhaps Mr. Houston is referring to the portion of his college application where he was invited to check off whether he played football, lacrosse, golf, soccer, or liked to skateboard? Or maybe he meant to point out the portion of his entrance questionnaire where he was required to list instruments played, his sexual preference, eye color, languages spoken, and taste in music and literature, so that those things could be taken into account in the university's big Diversity Toteboard." Indeed. I don't ever recall having the opportunity to submit a modelling portfolio as part of an application for admission, employment, tenure, or promotion (they'd be hard pressed to assess this.)
Two elements of Southern Methodist's policy, as represented in their own statement, come to my attention. Note first, "SMU has a designated debate area on campus for students to set up tables with information on various political issues, available to all student organizations." Is that the same thing as a free speech gazebo? Note further, "It is a violation of the University's nondiscrimination policy to sell goods at different prices based on race, ethnicity, or gender; however, signage expressing political points of view is a matter of free speech consistent with University policy." Things that make you go hmmmm .... is that first clause a precedent or a convenient justification after the fact? The "affirmative action bake sale" is itself a parody of a popular piece of guerrilla theater for International Womens' Day, namely cookie prices that reflect relative average earnings, unadjusted for age or experience. Has Southern Methodist in fact closed down such bake sales in the past? But then, isn't Southern Methodist itself violating its OWN nondiscrimination policy in offering financial aid? If there are any scholarships intended only for the right kinds of ethnicities or sexes, or if there are affirmative-action tweaks to the financial aid offers, the effect is to offer different prices based on precisely those things.
Professor Kleiman is certainly correct to observe, "And the idea that we can work fewer hours and enjoy higher material standards of living is a 'fantasy' only in Johnson's Puritanical fantasy life: in the real world, it's called 'economic progress' and has been going on since approximately the seventeenth century." (If not earlier: the berserkers of the tenth century were seriously underemployed compared to their forager ancestors. It is a shame that the earliest applied research into animal husbandry, crop cultivation, cheese making, and beer brewing are not written down. These all put any "aha" moments I have whether with paper and pencil or with a little help from Waterloo Maple to shame.)
Professor Johnson's full statement, however, is "The EU is built on a fantasy--that men and women can do less and less work, have longer and longer holidays and retire at an earlier age, while having their income, in real terms, and their standard of living increase. And this miracle is to be brought about by the enlightened bureaucratic regulation of every aspect of life." The fantasy he sees is in dirigisme rather than inventiveness bringing the increases in real income about. His complaint about the mandatory 35-hour week is more to the point, although he neglects to develop it. There are two developments he might have made. First, to an enterprising person, long hours on task are not necessarily a burden. (A visiting colleague recently told me that he was once locked in at Erasmus University and had to get help from security. Why? The university offices close at 17.30 and they are locked by 18.00. My colleague was in the North American mode of working on something as long as the enthusiasm was there. That the E.U. have not yet mandated panic bars on doors suggests the dirigiste state may not be as cloying as some perceive it.) Second, to the extent that the French style welfare state mandates large fixed employee-specific benefits to individual workers irrespective of hours of service, and it further limits the hours of service, it does pose substantial costs to hiring new workers. Those benefits quite likely mean that European workers who are actually employed will be quite productive.
In other sporting news, it was another ugly win for Wisconsin. Although the Badgers scored the first three times they had the ball, the kick coverage team did a pretty good imitation of a sieve, and only a roughing-the-passer call on an Illinois interception return prevented Illinois from tying the score. Meanwhile, the pennant races have come to an end, a month late as usual, with the Brewers spoiling Houston's run. Chicago's Cubs play at Atlanta. As it has been a good weekend to work and play, I shall not enumerate all the reasons to despise the (formerly Milwaukee) Braves.
I can offer at least anecdotal support for players using their favorite strategies in non-repeated encounters. Bobby Fischer, in Sixty Memorable Games remarked on a favored exchange sacrifice against a castled King, "I've made this sacrifice so many times I feel like applying for a patent."
"When book-fetishization, entrenched prejudices, and administrative neuroses run up against budgets, they will fall. Have every university press "publish" books that it doesn't believe will sell 2000 copies by putting .pdf files up on their respective webservers.
" If all university presses did this tomorrow, the crisis in scholarly publishing would be solved--as would the difficulty assistant professors have in finding publishers.
"We can move from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom tomorrow, if we will just open our eyes and abandon our false consciousness. The High Energy Theory subfield of physics moved from journal articles to webservers as their principal locus of intellectual activity back in 1995. It's been nearly a decade since then. Why have the rest of us not followed them?"
Well, one difficulty vanishes, as university presses might find the option of maintaining servers rather than presses and rolls of paper attractive, and the professor does all the typesetting (Scientific Workplace to Adobe Gold, forsooth!), but the difficulty of having it peer-reviewed first remains. Professor DeLong rather modestly does not mention his colleagues' work in providing peer-reviewed electronic journals in economics. Go here and note that five of the six have the imprimatur of the American Economic Association.
But there is yet another dimension to the problem, and it involves rediscovery of the division of labor. (You really should do that research on the rights and responsibilities of the land-grants and the normal schools in the 1950s. I know, I know.) A long time ago, Charlie Sykes, in Profscam (details or compare prices provided some evidence of corruption in journal review procedures, and asserted that most of the journals could go out of business with no loss in the stock of wisdom. Perhaps so. I'll withhold commentary on that other than to note that in the late 1980s I learned of at least one proposal to start a journal to publish papers rejected by other journals. (I'll resist snarking about refereed journals not listed in Journal of Economic Literature.) It's clear to me that
(1) original research is useful
(2) without original research, education unbecomes
(3) producing original research is not for everyone and
(4) some people have comparative advantages in passing along the knowledge others have discovered.
In light of those four points, it strikes me that the one-and-only-one-road to tenure might play a role in the cost squeeze the university presses encounter.
UPDATE: Outside the Beltway is thinking along similar lines about the One Career Path model.
"1) A government has 8 programs, call them 1-8.
2) 75% of the people want to reduce government spending.
3) No single government program has at least 50% of the people who want to get rid of it.
4) Spending does not get reduced.
"I don't know what this is called, but there was a name for it. Something similar might be happening with collegiate education. EVERYONE wants diplomas to be worth more, but the students don't want to do the extra work and the schools don't want to lose their customers and ultimately no one is willing to take it on the chin because everyone's benefiting in one way or another from the current system."
The first phenomenon is a voting paradox. There are a lot of those out there. The second has elements of a prisoners' dilemma, but there may be sufficiently many participants in the higher education enterprise to resolve it. Consider, first, that parents often make great sacrifices to get their kids into name schools (there's a rant coming on that vanishing middle class, probably tomorrow, which is connected to those sacrifices) and thus the students do the extra work (often the wrong kind of extra work) in high school to get into the prestige colleges and often apply themselves once they get there. As noted here, the students recognize that they are in fact not benefitting from the current system, if they're encountering schedule-completion hassles.
The prisoners' dilemma problem arises during the periods of slack enrollment, as I've discovered in conversations with colleagues, some of whom have been around these parts longer than I (yes, there are a few ... I'm amused when the Up-and-Coming seminar speaker reacts with a "wow" when they discover I've been seventeen years in one place) and who report that there is hysteresis in high-school advising. A college that tightens its admission standards in the fat years carries that reputation into the lean years, when the admissions office might have slackened standards a bit. The problem there, however, is not with the hysteresis but with the university's planning. Middle school enrollment patterns are often a pretty good indicator of college application patterns five to six years down the road, but in the thirty years I've been observing planning I've noticed promiscuous neglect of such evidence, beginning with the University of Wisconsin building a very nice dorm, erm, residence hall along the lake shore that was never used as such. (The University of Chicago's curricular reforms of the late 1990s were particularly ill-timed. Not only did they engender ill will with graduates, but they were addressing an enrollments problem that was going to go away in a few years. And an economist was leading the charge to make the change. I don't have that many hairs to pull out.)
Hypothesis: there is an equilibrium in which standards are higher and students do more work, and there are gains from trade in making those things happen.
Off the ways comes
You are a Pirate Second Class
Do you remember the last time you took a chance? I do. It was when you decided to leave the security of your mother's womb and headed for the bright light. It's time to head for the next bright light, my friend. Creativity is not your strong suit. You are good at doing what you are told to do and that, in itself, is a gift. It's not a gift to you, mind you, but rather a gift to those who will be there to tell you what to do. You like long walks on the beach and cuddling, but would never admit that to your Guy friends who think you are okay but can't always remember your name. Tapioca pudding seems a bit extreme for a fellow such as yerself, what with all the bumps and stuff. It's a good thing ye be on a pirate ship,
otherwise, ye'd would be walkin' because ye be positively pedestrian. Have a nice day.
What's Yer Inner Pirate?
brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site. Arrrrr!
In the drydock is
You Are A Pirate!
What Type Of Swashbuckler Are You?
brought to you by Maddog Varuka & Dawg Brown
I report, ye decide, lubbers!
1. It is difficult to analyze data sets of any kind, new or old, without some sort of testable implications in mind a priori. That doesn't equate in my mind to microeconomics envy, in fact economists are content to let theorists theorize whether or not their work produces any testable implications.
2. The rewards to developing new data sets are proportional to the published research one can produce with them. The opportunity costs of developing such data sets are higher than those of using existing ones, but the returns are potentially greater. (This is from someone who bet his career early on on some hero projects involving his own data sets.)
1. It isn't true.
2. It may be true, but it doesn't matter.
3. It’s true, and it matters, but doing something about it would (a) have the perverse effect of making that thing worse, or (b) make something else worse. etc etc.
I suppose there's
4. It's true, but it's improving.
Perhaps that's my experience with the North American variant of "right" thinking showing, where much of the debate over the effectiveness of (pick 'em) the New Deal, or the Great Society, or deregulation is about improvements in the lot of the poorest or most vulnerable absent targeted or well-intended policy changes.
UPDATE: Shot in the Dark has some thoughts on related topics, including the prejudices of the cognitive elite.
(He also, by invoking the aging urban hippie in the upscale neighborhood, provokes the following wicked thought: can you infer something about a bicyclist's politics by whether or not he wears a helmet? Does that also apply to those recumbent bicycles? I have yet to see anyone riding one of those things who isn't wearing a helmet. And on those things, the rider's head is closer to the ground than it would be on an ancient Schwinn commuter bike ...)
UPDATE: Dynamist has more, including a link to some original thinking about the phenomenon.
In a related post, The American Mind weighs in on the consequences of universities morphing into trade schools that do the job badly -- once the degree loses its signalling value, what role will there be for the university? This is not a trivial point, as businesses are already spending heavily on basic skills training that the common schools used to do. And once again, NOW is the time to confront that problem, while there is sufficient enrollment pressure that individual professors, with the support of their universities if it's offered, without if necessary, can weed out the underachievers.
Let's see if I get this straight. A pilot is intent on Osama-bin-Ladening Representative Young in his hotel. (As if the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is a 72-olive target, but I digress.) What possible difference does the employer of the traffic controller who clears the pilot for take-off make in the operation of the aircraft, once it has taken off?
UPDATE: Tapped on the same point, albeit with editorial comment.
Clearly, when a weak department challenges criticism of its academic weaknesses because the criticism neglects -- indeed, allegedly is stronger because of -- the diversity of the department in question, the dilettantes are in charge.
The Highered Intelligence post ties in with my previous post on mission differentiation among universities, something that I perceive to be eroding inefficiently. My focus was on the evolution of a different kind of academic pecking order among faculty members, with research-based tenure track coexisting uneasily with insecurity-based adjunct track as the modern norm, rather than different kinds of tenure tracks for different kinds of colleges and universities, as I perceive was the case long ago. Highered Intelligence focuses on the nature of education and the purposes of students, in a way that also ties in with the holding pen meme. Consider "UCLA (motto: On! Wisconsin!) undergraduates are really two different types of people: science majors and non-science majors. The difference is, at times, striking. (Please remember that I am generalizing here, so don't send me email complaining about it unless you really mean to argue with the generalization.) The Science Majors are dedicated to their work, and interested in their work. They work hard at their work. They have to, because the departments don't allow you to coast through. Math and science majors at UCLA (repeat motto) know their subjects, and quite often this approach spills over to their other classes. Many of the chemistry majors I knew were more conversant in literature than the English majors.
"The social sciences and humanities, while they certainly have their stars, are populated by and large with students whose goal is simply to get a diploma... and it doesn't really matter in what that diploma is. The humanities diploma from UCLA (motto) is a credential... a signifier to the rest of society that the bearer is a reasonably competent individual who knows how to read and can probably learn new things with little difficulty. As far as substantive knowledge goes, the humanities undergraduate who was able to discuss their major coherently was a rare creature at UCLA. They're not there for the knowledge, they are there for the sheepskin."
While I disagree in part with the generalization about social and behavioral sciences, I am prepared to grant for the sake of discussion that relatively few people who are in university for the signalling value of the degree will major in chemistry, or mathematics, and it's a perpetual struggle to disabuse the people who have not made the cut at the college of business that an economics major is a cheap substitute. Hence the signalling value conflicts with the human capital value of a degree.
So what's the connection to the service differentiation post? Only this: at one time the dilettantes went to the finishing schools or sometimes the converted normal schools; the strivers went to the undergraduate programs at the research universities or to the land-grants. Today's more-or-less-undistinguishable comprehensive university attempts to serve the dilettantes and the strivers alike, and as Number 2 Pencil notes, perhaps the admissions policies are supposed to yield a mix of strivers and of dilettantes.
(An explanation of the rather obscure header: my parents were not happy with some of the new vocabulary I acquired at first grade. Their way of explaining the rule was that there were playground words not to be used inside the house, especially around guests. I have long asked people who have good things to say about the socialization kids get in school whether that includes learning the playground words.)
UPDATE: Virginia Postrel provides some perspective on why the snapshots of reality are messy, and notes the difficulty of making sense of it all from Stateside. She also finds news that U.S. combat troops are no longer quartered in Saudi Arabia. One bin Laden objective achieved, albeit not under circumstances entirely favorable to al-Qaeda?
Later the same day, Alabama's red elephants scored an early touchdown on a long pass, and a late touchdown on a long run, not quite enough, however, as Northern Illinois prevailed 19-16.
Swarthmore's John Burke notes, "What [Fish is] wrong about is the implication of his rhetoric, that sweeping threat to all programs and services, that higher education must choose to cut everything indiscriminately, that there cannot be a systematic logic to the reduction of its mission." I've put my little list out for all to see and to react to. Via Milt's File (another newsie who has yet to discover permalinks) I discover a Manhattan Institute working paper (warning: think tank with a point of view) that claims "Only 70% of all students in public high schools graduate, and only 32% of all students leave high school qualified to attend four-year colleges." The problems confronting the government-assisted universities will not be solved until the problems of the government-operated schools are solved. Moreover, Professor Burke, in attempting to link Dean Fish's plea with New York University President John Sexton's proposal (also requires registration, via The Little Professor) that professors become more active in teaching. Burke's fear: "[Sexton is] not talking about the reduction of higher education, but at least on the surface, about its expansive re-invention. If many are skeptical when they read his proposals, it may not be because they have any particular reason to doubt Sexton's sincerity or even the conceptual attractiveness of his ideas, but because they know that established and powerful interests within the NYU faculty will not permit those ideas to be implemented in their most desirable and idealistic form. Sexton might say that a new 'teaching faculty' ought to be viewed as the peers of the traditional tenured research-oriented faculty, but even if he desperately wants that, the established faculty will rapidly subordinate and denigrate such faculty as being second-raters.
"Such a faculty would have no external source of validation to draw upon: no publications, no peer networks, no reputation capital. Or worse yet, their only source of external validation would derive from academically oriented Departments of Education, which would simply draw a teaching faculty back into the usual hierarchies of academic value, as experimental animals for education researchers. A 'great' teacher in John Sexton's new NYU would only be great in my estimation by what they did in the classroom, and there are and can be no external standards commonly agreed upon that would allow us to compare one such great teacher with the next, to create a platform for the accumulation of reputation capital that would put Sexton's teaching faculty on an equal plane with the established ranks of academic scholars."
The Little Professor and Apt. 11-D weigh in with comments on the Sexton proposal and the Burke editorial, raising similar questions about the creation of another job classification that is essentially steerage. Perhaps a review of some history is in order. Long ago, there were the famous research universities (Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Yale, Chicago), the land-grant universities (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan State), the finishing schools (Macalester, Carleton, Middlebury), and the normal schools (Superior State, Northern Illinois, Indiana State.) I might have to spend some time in the archives looking at the job descriptions, tenure criteria, teaching and administrative responsibilities, and research output among these types of universities. These at one time coexisted yet were different (I have no way of judging what sort of social pecking order would have existed among those institutions.) More recently, I perceive them as becoming more alike in their strategies, their requirements of faculties, and their problems. The NYU president's recent proposal might mean nothing more than a rediscovery by some of these institutions, including my own, of their original roles.
Daniel Drezner puts in an appearance on Milt Rosenberg's Extension 720, along with two other scholar-webloggers. The audience inspires Professor Rosenberg to get started in weblogging (he had been doing something similar on the WGN server previously) and the show may have teased out the identity of the "Australian listener on the Internet" who often sends challenging e-mails to the Extension 720 panel.
All I'm asking is that any administrator who comes from the ranks of the faculty be prepared to stand one kind of watch, which is to teach a section or two of an introductory class in his field. And if I were Grossadmiral, any administrator who offered some excuse or objection would be off my staff as quickly as I could arrange a hearing. Professor Banaian is correct to fear that there are some in the 8 to 4.30 set who have no ear for scholarship or teaching. That state of affairs is something that I would like to see changed.
For those of you who are inspired to get into model railroading, Where Worlds Collide has some suggestions about getting started. Joining a club, or simply assisting your neighbors at their construction sessions, is a particularly useful bit of advice. You can see a lot just by watching.
So, what would it cost to have some administrators teach real classes? (I am ruling out the learn-about-college-for-college-credit courses here, and, yes, some Deans do teach a class, but it's the converted professors or Ph.D.s with few publications who serve as assistant-tos that I'm thinking about here. Presumably they could teach sections of basic courses in their fields.)
First, we lose some administrative meetings and some scheming up of new requests for information to send to the faculty. Second, we might get some sense from the 8.00 to 4.30 crowd about what our reality on the faculty has been, i.e. we can find time in our schedule to teach more courses, we can find time in our schedule to teach more students per course, we can find time in our schedule to fill in assessment reports, we can find time in our schedule to develop new forms of assessment, we can find time in our schedule to fill in the same human resources form for each external speaker. Third, we'd be less subject to criticism for relying on part-timers and inexperienced graduate students to teach courses. On that last point, Invisible Adjunct located the University of Phoenix job descriptions. I suppose if you want to talk shop for three hours a week and call it college (Adam Smith: "People of the same trade seldom gather together ...) you can, but there's got to be a selling point in offering a serious education in the foibles of the world as opposed to some tips to get through your next promotion review. And it does no good for the University to be expanding its administrative tail and filling it with people who have no experience in the classroom.
(A PS to King: what is "trading fours?")