Dear Nancy

I don't for one moment purport to belittle or to demean all that you
outline: my observations related primarily to the conduct of the
institutions within which all that takes place.

All Best

On 7 June 2012 20:48, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Dear David,
> The irony of stereotypes is that those who espouse them imagine they are
> real.  The idea that making money or working in business is somehow "real"
> and in contrast to what is thought to be not "real" is one of the most
> insidious causes of problems in education. I happen to think a life of
> study and commitment to reading, writing, critical thinking, and teaching
> future generations is about the most "real" thing one can do. I happen to
> think I live in as real a world as there is. Otherwise I would not spend my
> time studying, for example, century-old poems like *The Waste Land* and
> believe it matters.
> Cheers,
> Nancy
> >>> David Boyd **06/07/12 3:35 PM >>>
> But, I am not espousing stereotypes, Nancy - I hope I am living in the
> real world.
> Regards
> David
> On 7 June 2012 19:56, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>  If "market forces" were remotely what is claimed for them, we would not
>> be in the financial mess we're in. It's become a slogan for what you
>> aptly quote as "the unacceptable face of capitalism." I have no objection
>> to capitalism as a general economic method, but there are now no controls
>> on it. That is the lack of any limiting hand that is a serious problem.
>> I'm not interested in continuing this either, but I cannot be silent when
>> universities are simply misunderstood and criticized on no basis of insight
>> and certainly not on business methods as a model. There are
>> corporate scandals precisely because "market forces" do not protect the
>> public from outrageous misbehavior by "business." Moreover, there is no
>> single "fundamental economics." Economists disagree as much as any other
>> group.
>> So I would appreciate an end to stereotypes of universities if this is to
>> stop.  I realize it is not all that enlightening.
>> Nancy
>> >>> David Boyd **06/07/12 1:50 PM >>>
>> On 7 June 2012 18:17, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hallo Nancy
>> No point in prolonging any of this debate, save to say that I do not
>> believe my critique to be at all 'false', in the same way that I am no
>> apologist at all for what a right-wing but decent and astute UK Prime
>> Minister was moved to call 'the unacceptable face of capitalism'
>> You can readily point to recent 'scandals', but they don't alter one
>> little bit the fact that, if you take away Adam Smith's 'invisible hand',
>> the almost-inevitable outcome is very bad indeed - including the sheer
>> waste and inefficiency that tends to flourish once that hand isn't there.
>> I don't pretend to know how things work in the USA, but, in the UK,
>> universities get the vast bulk of their funding from the taxpayer, and are
>> therefore insulated from market forces: THAT's the nub of the problem ! -
>> it's fundamental economics.
>>>  I agree that the ground is changing--unfortunately it is
>>> mainly because legislators no longer see education as either essential or
>>> part of "the American Dream." Students who did not have enough sense to
>>> choose wealthy parents either work long hours and try to go to university
>>> at the same time or give up, try for jobs with only a High School diploma
>>> (or not even that) and get none.
>>> My point is not that universities do everything right or that they have
>>> no corruption--though in my experience the latter does come mainly from
>>> attempts to impose "business" models where they have no applicability or
>>> from administrators with no real experience of what has to go on in
>>> classrooms and libraries and no preparation to understand the real purpose
>>> of what they are supposedly doing. Example: my university decided we did
>>> not need to teach German because there were not enough majors. So majors in
>>> philosophy (who wanted to go to graduate school where they would have to
>>> read it in the original) and music majors (who have to sing in many
>>> languages) had a sit-in. We still have a German professor at least, but not
>>> a major. It is a stupid and ignorant application of "efficiency." In my own
>>> case, half my career has been on Scots literature (half on Eliot of
>>> course), and it was my study of German and Anglo-Saxon that made it
>>> possible. Neither would now appear to be efficient I assume, and what
>>> administrator from a business background would have the slightest knowledge
>>> base on which to judge?
>>> But the key point is that students are not customers; classrooms do not
>>> exist to find out what they like and provide it; universities that attempt
>>> only to provide training without knowledge--let alone wisdom--are classist,
>>> since the children of wealth go to the Ivies and a few top universities
>>> where they do get some broad insight into history and culture as well as
>>> skills; and administrators with no experience in classrooms and scholarship
>>> have no useful preparation for making those activities work.
>>> Faculty do not exist to fulfill administrative ideas; on the contrary,
>>> the only conceivable reason for any administrator's job is to facilitate
>>> what faculty and students do.
>>> I am also weary of the assumption that all "change" is either in itself
>>> good or unavoidable. Change can be bad. Objections to it are not simplistic
>>> resistance to and fear of "change." It might surprise you that on
>>> education, I am what most colleagues would consider pretty conservative,
>>> though that is not unconsidered or mindless clinging to anything. I am
>>> appalled at what goes for education in many places--including schools as
>>> well as universities--now.
>>> Nancy
>>> >>> Ken Armstrong **06/07/12 12:46 PM >>>
>>> Nancy,
>>>  There can be no doubt that the profit motive of big business has lead
>>> to plentiful and infamous cases of corruption and ill-gotten gains, but
>>> as someone who spent thirty-plus years mostly as a non-academic and not a
>>> high level "administrator" in a largish university, I know there is plenty
>>> of evidence on the side of  the problems inherent with academics who may
>>> have spent 10 to 20 years (in your example) heaving to the lines of the
>>> tenure process and then a few years later being catapulted into management
>>> positions to which they attempt to apply the same rules and attitudes that
>>> served them well in the tenure or department decision-making process. Those
>>> of good will and common sense usually come out without doing too much
>>> damage and occasionally some real good to processes they have no
>>> preparation to understand; others can do a lot of harm in a relatively
>>> short period of time. As a mid-level administrator I was always grateful
>>> for the former and wary of the latter. The best of the latter were the ones
>>> I could ignore because they were themselves so ignorant of what they were
>>> in charge of they didn't know how to evaluate anything that was happening
>>> under them.
>>>  The problem with this system is that the ground is changing under it
>>> and as a model that was perhaps appropriate, or more appropriate, many
>>> decades ago it has become more dysfunctional as the world and its perceived
>>> functions change so drastically around it. BTW, in my experience there was
>>> no shortage, either, of plain old incompetent administrators who never were
>>> faculty. The wonder for me was that this was at a verifiably highly
>>> successful institution. I always wondered how things must be going down in
>>> the swamps of the less successful...
>>> Ken A