Fake It Till You Make It in Academia

Another ridiculous article has appeared in Chronicle of Higher Education. Its author promotes the “fake it till you make it” mentality. This is a slogan of people in telemarketing companies, and the hapless academic suggests we apply it in academia:

And all is not lost if you have crossed over the line to disliking teaching. It is still perfectly possible to do a good job, even an excellent job. In fact, it probably happens on your campus every semester. The trick is as simple as it is human: Hide your dislike. Effective teaching is, after all, a set of behaviors. What students need from us are clear presentations, careful selections of course material, engaging discussions—in short, the right behaviors. One of those is hiding your dislike. Students don’t learn by peering into your mind to see if you are enjoying teaching. Why would it matter to them if you feign it?

No, it doesn’t matter to the students. It matters to you, doofus. You are destroying your own mental and physical health by forcing yourself to do something you don’t like doing. What is this, a Masochist’s Manifesto?

If you keep doing something that doesn’t make you happy, you have a good chance of pleasing others. But is the cost to yourself ever worth doing a good job, being effective, and giving people what they need? We only have one life here. Why waste it on self-torture?

Here is an intelligent response from a blogger whose writing would be a much more valuable asset to an academic publication.

12 thoughts on “Fake It Till You Make It in Academia

  1. Why do you read CHE?

    Wouldn’t it be more fun (and more edifying) to sit on hot sidewalk cramming chalk into your ears while a big shaggy dog licks your knees?

    And shouldn’t the initials (CHE = the dread land of silver) be a clue that there’s nothing in there that will edify?

    All that said, yeah even people that really love teaching get sick of it at times (like today after seven hours(!) of one one one consultations with students who have no more idea about how to format a paper than how to fly to Texas and back on their own power).

    Still… it beats the alternatives (for me) and the moments that make me hate humanity are outnumbered by the more positive times.

    Like

  2. “It matters to you, doofus. You are destroying your own mental and physical health by forcing yourself to do something you don’t like doing. ”

    I agree!

    “No, it doesn’t matter to the students”

    Yes, it does matter to students because the professor will become a boring teacher.

    This mentality is created by the research track system. And this will go on forever…

    Like

    1. I highly doubt this person is good at research.

      This reminded me of a candidate we once had who announced during the campus visit, “I don’t really like teaching, and research is not my thing. But other than that, I’m fine.” 🙂

      Like

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