I’m too sick with flu to determine whether this weird article in Inside Higher Ed is some sort of a parody. So maybe my readers can help me figure it out. It is titled “Get Out While You Can” and presents a really apocalyptic scenario of tenured professors being fired in droves all over the country and being left jobless and broke. The author believes in the imminence of this scenario because of the tired old story about the crazy Peter Thiel who paid 20 kids to drop out of college. Apparently, without these very stupid students the entire system of higher education is doomed to collapse extremely soon.
Another bugbear discussed in the article is the scary online education that is going to administer itself without any input from actual professors. I wish the technology-hater who wrote the article provided some links to the places where online courses get generated and administered all on their own. This would save me a lot of time I’m about to spend trying to prepare my own online course. Remember those sci-fi novels from the fifties that kept scaring us about how soon robots and computers would replace real people? It must be the same computers that will run our online courses for us.
The other sign that the author is still hopelessly stuck in the fifties can be found in the following sentence:
If you think that students will always prefer live, human performances to online education, please ask yourself whether many 18-year-old boys would rather be taught by you or by something that came out of the technology used to create this. [Some video game excerpt is inserted here]
The good news is that, nowadays, not only are women allowed to attend college, they also get more degrees than men. Also, in spite of the author’s contempt towards 18-year-old males, many of them can recognize the value of a good education well enough.
According to the article, the only reason anybody goes to college is to avoid some imaginary stigma that attaches to you in case you don’t have a college degree. Remember, this is an educator writing. An educator who has obviously not talked to an actual student in decades. The conclusion by this author who is currently writing a book about the danger of smart people and smart technology is fit material for a standup routine:
Networking is the key to career management. Professors do much networking, but mostly with other professors. I suggest that professors network outside of academia with a goal of having a set of contacts we could use to acquire a nonacademic position. The best way to do this is to use Facebook and Linkedin to keep in touch with some of our former students, especially those who would make good bosses.
I was wriggling with laughter after the very first sentence. After the second one, I started to hiccup from laughter. When I finished reading the article, though, I paused and thought, “What if this very disturbed person is speaking in earnest? And if so, then how can anybody argue that this sort of professor is fit to be retained in his job?”