Monday, June 1, 2009

I Quit

School, not "The Academy"... I'll teach math to anybody that'll sit still and listen for the rest of my life I expect and promote literacy generally whenever I get a chance. Teaching and Learning have been much the biggest part of my social life for most of my life; you don't change such things in a heartbeat even if you want to.

Anyhow, I quit this blog; I'm not going to be studying this particular aspect of the mess we're in with anything like the same urgency or consistency (or so I conjecture) so I'll just shove everything that would've otherwise gone here into, as of now, Open A Vein. Thanks for your kind attention.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Another World Is Possible

Xero on "changing" higher ed. Clear vision and an angelic voice. Almost makes you glad to be alive.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One Links List Deserves Another

Catching up with FACE.

nothing in his life became him

people that care about me don't like it
when i call myself a failure and so maybe
i oughta knock it off... but by golly,
there's sure good *evidence* for it
if you like that kind of thing.

i've referred to teaching
freelance as an "adjunct"
(after four years on the tenure-track)
as being "sent down to the minors"
and that's how it felt for a long time.
i still got to play the game.

and i even had a pretty good run:
thousands of students have learned
quite a bit of math with my help.
meanwhile, i got to talk to lots
of other teachers about the art.

i haven't even *learned* anything
that counts as "being a pro" to me;
not anymore. i've gotten to be
a great math tutor as i see it
but am scared to even think about trying
to find paying tutees, for example.
and the point here is that *all* the
"professionalism" here (as always)
is *getting paid* and i'm worse than
a beginner at getting paid.

also a damn fine lecturer sometimes.
but a pisspoor assigner of grades.
i've gotten so bad at *this* that
i have to quit.

"i have to quit".
gee. when you put it like that
it almost feels like you're *not*
about to get a sinking feeling
that just *keeps* sinking.
as in, for about an hour just now
and no end in sight.

anyhow if you can handle *that*, try *this*:
i *want* to sell.

hint: you don't have to actually *believe* it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

As Rome Burns

"The Universities in Trouble": Andrew Delbanco surveys recent lit in NYRB.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It Only Encourages Them

"Teacher Depreciation Week" by an uninspired teacher.

An internet-ancient (2004) post on grade inflation dedicated to the Invisible.

Changing higher ed: Sherman Dorn sums up.

listening the most precious thing

there's plenty of rope; plenty of lamp-posts. so the billionaires fear one thing most of all: free assembly. crowds are alright... free people are even kind of acceptable... but crowds of free people topple empires.

the "work" of the captives of the system: sit quietly and listen. if you do this well enough, they let you speak to some of the other captives... on the condition that you produce certain documents.

the purpose of these documents is reported to be "see why, eh?" but, no doubt due to my faulty wiring at the factory... i appear to've been some sort of experimental model or something... this scans as gibberish to me. what the system appears to require—as a sort of tax for having had access to all those precious listening ears—is an accounting: who was listening? to what? when? where? why were we not informed?

these documents replace the captive listeners in the next level of the hierarchy (as the most precious thing). and just as, ideally, no one will speak except the captive-in-front during a listening session, no document should "speak" by ever being actually read: each one should be so much like thousands of others that it can be filed and forgotten (until it can be safely destroyed; around here that takes about three months).

and then you move up, up, up... evidently there are robotic entities at some organizational level processing meta-reports about meta-reports... all to the effect "everything here still safely under control"—and essentially nothing else.

when "something goes wrong" the documentation tree must be actually searched; the goal is to determine which branches of the "tree" (what "student", "instructor", "committee", "department", "college", or whatnot) will be threatened with, typically, a requirement that they produce more bricks with less straw.

people can somehow live this way. without crawling up into books for several hours a day too, though that would certainly appear to be the easiest way.

heck, if you're allowed to read while you're supposed to be listening, it's hardly even a waste of time at all...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dog Goes Right On Biting Man

Burnt-out Adjunct on an IHE thread on the erosion of tenure.

"Lessons for girls" at Not of General Interest (etc.)... polymorphously perverse boys can play too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The University In Ruins

"Pedagogy of Debt, The"... in a beastly ad-ridden format alas... was my introduction to Jefferey J. Williams; next I found "Teach the University" (PDF) and "Debt Education: Bad for the Young, Bad for America" (an HTML page claiming to be a PDF... life is complicated). Go, look... find rooftop, shout...

The hat-tip goes to decasia... but this review of HTUW shows me that I prob'ly shoulda known about Williams from reading Bousquet...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chop Wood Carry Water

So there was this guy on the bus today collecting signatures and he passed the clipboard over the aisle to the woman in front of me and she filled some of it in and signed off on it evidently and passed it back because from what he said he was filling in some stuff she'd overlooked when another fella came up and asked him about working collecting signatures. And they start talking about that and I remark to the petition-signer "The Democrats are mobilized!" because guys getting directions to the hiring hall for political work on the Midstate Transit is pretty doggone inspiring. And she asks am I a Democrat and I say "No, I'm an anarchist... they keep locking everybody up and if that's good government, give me the other thing". And she appears to understand me completely because this ain't the Ivory Tower here or even the Workfarce Center... Midstate Transit, this route, is pretty much street level though much to their credit the drivers maintain some order. And they're building an enormous new jail smack downtown and all. And the guy wrapped up with the other guy and, I imagine because I was conversing with his last contact, asks am I registered and I say no I'm pretty sure I'll've been purged by now; it's a long time since I voted. And there's really nothing more to report after that. I'm not headed for the hiring hall. Yet. I've got a job. For now. Still quite a pleasant encounter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

See You In The Streets

Here's the amazing Thomas Geoghegan, in an NPR interview (at Democracy Now!) about "Infinite Debt" (a piece in the recent Harper's).

A-and "Reading, Writing, and Union-Building", by Steve Early in MR.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Practically Mainstream

"Higher Education Takes A Hit" (as the truth becomes more widespread) in The Nation. I had to let my subscription lapse because about a quarter of the issues never came. Used to be a great magazine though.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Business As Usual

A great HS math department destroyed: JD2718 on Bronx HS of Science.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Western Culture's Got To Go

Lesboprof on changing values. The Chronicle an organ of propaganda? One is shocked!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Some Fell On Stony Ground

D-squared offers a parable of the crisis ("work to rule"). But read it in the blog itself (at March 09 09) so you can look at the comments.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Targeted Tutoring

So I took a meeting yesterday. Which I seldom do, of course. The shiny silver lining of the cloudy state we'll call "contingency" is the right to refuse a mission. But they're starting up this experimental-status thing here in the Math department where I'll work with a Regular Faculty and one of his classes... essentially as a "section man" (to stir up a vanishing piece of academese)—but with, of course, weird rules for the "section" that I'm to run.

Most of all, so put it up front and mention its obviousness, is extra paperwork. Because, naturally, the experiment is being run by the Law of Bureaucrat Gravity: pander to money. Evidently it pleases somebody somewhere to say: apply this-or-that new buzzword and prove you're doing it: look, here's a grant for an "experiment". Just make sure everything gets turned into meaningless unreadable lies every week or we'll cut you off (at the knees).

Well, probably I should've run like hell but... you know... whatever my project in the Barracks (as I've taken to calling the big Group Office over in MadPOV) is, keeping up with what the Adjunct Pool are up to is sure part of it... and, dammit, this is how departments are run and these poor souls running it are doing the best they can just like (I have to assume) my colleagues of the Adjunct Pool are doing. It's just a rule of social life: you don't question how the other party makes their living. And that'll have to apply even though my project here, if I understand it at all, is to some extent about flying under the paperwork radar to avoid the twin corruptions of Grades and Money.

So anyway, this Section gig pairs me with... let's call him Ira... and a 148 class. The weakest students will be assigned time with me and the whole class will be invited... but, again, the whole point looks to be this Big-Brother-is-watching project: tracking progress of individual students. As far as this meeting is concerned, anyway. Obviously mostly I'll be doing math problems with 'em in practice. And meeting with Ira will be a hoot. I love talking to math teachers about The Art.

Some faculty are better at administration than the Art; it was ever thus and ever must be thus. As I've mentioned before (in my old math-ed blog), scheduling the tutors is service to the profession and one wants to be collegial. The on-line sign-in interface the current underboss imposed on the tutoring process is cosmically bad but hasn't been much of an actual pain in my particular flesh. So I think the thing here is I'm supposed to try to sort of forgive her in advance for the whole clueless waste of time aspect of things that she's sort of necessarily going to be associated with. A "human face of the institution" thing. OK. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

UFT Protest At Bronx Highschool

Mentioned by (leading mathblogger) JD2718. Announced in Gotham Schools.

Thursday, March 12, 2009



The College’s chief academic officer, Provost Dr. Kay Adkins, has not been seen on campus since November. College records indicate she has not been present at any Cabinet or administrative meetings for nearly four months. The administration has offered no explanation for her absence, despite the fact that she is not on medical leave and continues to receive her salary in excess of $120,000. A conspiracy of silence surrounds Dr. Adkins’ status at Columbus State.

Deans and other academic administrators have been asked to assume many of her responsibilities, various functions that require action by the Provost have gone unfulfilled, and reports indicate that she is seeking administrative positions elsewhere in the country and has been a finalist for leadership positions at several other colleges. The Provost Search Committee is in the process of recommending candidates to replace the current Provost, but why is she still on the payroll if she’s not showing up for her job? At a time when many Americans have lost their jobs, the President's decision to continue to pay the Provost to "work" at home seems to be a colossal waste of taxpayer money, as well as an insult to the rest of the College's committed employees who serve students and the community by showing up for their jobs every day.

The Provost’s failure to fulfill the position’s duties has resulted in several embarrassing situations, conflicts between faculty and support staff, and lapses in completion of important College initiatives. It’s time for open communication: why is the Provost being paid to stay at home while much of her work is not being completed and additional responsibilities are being foisted off onto other administrators?

The Scholar In The Category Of Pure Evil

"When an Intent to Protect becomes a License to Harm", by Catherine Scott (Ed Prof in Oz), found in The Third Education Group (amateurish page design... charming or ominous?).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Getting The Word Out

Some recognition for Scott Jaschik (of IHE) by Vanessa of Computers, Language, and Writing, in The New Faculty Majority. The comments feature there is broken; I can't see the word that you're supposed to type in to prove you're a human.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

All Your Danger Is In Discord

Deborah Lewis reports on activities of the Organizing Committee for an organization Yet To Be Named (at th' NFM).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Groucho Never Did This

Some adj-l members have set up a national committee; IHE mentions this development in the last "quick take" on this page. But none of the main players on that list have ever shown the slightest interest in anything I've ever had to say and I've cancelled my subscription as of five minutes ago. So if anything interesting develops, maybe you should tell me...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Now With Interesting Trolls

"Adjunct professors need their own union", by Keith Hoeller, guesting in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer yesterday. Hoeller covers the adjunct beat better than anyone I know, regularly posting links to recent articles to the adj-l email list (as many as everybody else put together, easy... Keith Hoeller needs a blog...). He's also a real activist. (Many of us, and this emphatically includes me, are perfectly happy to do research but shun the essential political work.) His focus seems to be more in the legislative arena than organizing per se; indeed, he's sometimes perceived as "anti-union".

And here's "Cutting colleges' adjunct instructors not a wise move", by Jack Longmate (a couple weeks ago). If you get the idea that Washington (state) is about a gazillion years ahead of Ohio, go to the head of the class.

I haven't been reading adj-l much lately... it's begun to seem mostly like "blowing off steam" and it seems to me if we're going to do that, the least we can do is do it as publicly as we know how...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Our Virtues And Cruel Goodnesses

Steve Street has begun The New Faculty Majority—a blog about Adjunct Activism devoted to actions this coming April. Ordinarily I'd just shove a new blog into the sidebar, but this seem to call for special attention. I'm Academic Lumpenproletariat and I approve this message.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Notes On A Scandal

Here is (the PDF version of) Part-time Faculty in Higher Education: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, by Robert Pankin and Carla Weiss. Bound to be useful (the printers in "my" office are incommunicado today so I haven't looked at it carefully). Hat-tip : Adjunct Advice.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Question Everything; Challenge Nothing

Gerald "Teach the Conflicts" Graff on 'Courseocentrism' in IHE.

Causing Galileo's Math Book To Get Thrown
Useless and pointless knowledge: this brazen teacher dares to doubt the deep doubts.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Being a College Professor is harder than it looks (Phil Ray Jack; FACE).

Monday, January 5, 2009