Professor Quits

May this never be my life (HT: Rod Dreher):

Will I miss some of my colleagues? Sure. They have a remarkable ability to enjoy their craft, but I have great difficulty believing that I am making a significant difference in the lives of my students. Are my peers aware students are skimming the reading? Yes. They have figured out that getting emotionally invested in the student body is both taxing and fruitless. Instead they enjoy their autonomy and the bucolic campus life without a second thought, or with a deeply imbued cognitive dissonance that I have not yet embraced.

I will not miss all of them. Simply put, too many are intellectually lazy. Many of my colleagues think of the day they receive tenure as the last official day they have to produce research. They consider research as a burden, not as a labor of love that complements teaching.

As for the students, I know that I’ll miss the good ones. Any good professor treasures the joy of seeing in a student’s eyes the “ah-ha – now I get it” moment. It cannot be replicated, nor can it be easily described. It is sadly ever increasingly rare. In fact I think I am doing a genuine service to the better students by leaving. I cannot in good conscience dumb down a lecture, knowing full well that the gifted and talented have read four chapters beyond the syllabus, and that they are not being sufficiently challenged.

Alas for the state of the mind! But some are called to stand in the gap. Where I may, I know not.

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4 responses to “Professor Quits

  1. Eh, this is why my dad refuses to teach undergrads.

    Sort of. He has other reasons too. Like “you guys are just a bunch of idiots who think you’re really smart.”

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  2. Wow. You actually edited my comment and squished them into one.

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  3. Why are we now at the point where people who are like that still choose to attend university? Not that it’s entirely new, since some people at Oxford long ago used to pay poorer students to serve them and do their work, but by now no one would seriously call a university a community of scholars.

    If people think they can just coast, they’re wrong. Or are they anymore?

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  4. University at student level = coasting (or attempting and failing).

    University at professor level = borderline scholarly.

    But then, I grew up with my dad, who’s been a proud workaholic even after tenure. He genuinely loves his research and glows whenever he tells me about his new ideas and papers. I’m sure he has many lazy colleagues though, because he actually cites “you can just relax after tenure!” as a reason for me to become a professor… do nothing, stay home, be a wife/mom type deal and still get paid. “Good job for women,” he says.

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