Academics’ High Self-Esteem

I just encountered yet another stupid and nearly unreadable article from an academia-hater. I won’t analyze it in detail because it is as boring and poorly researched as a gazillion other anti-education pieces that appear in print and online every two minutes. I just want to offer the following quote as an example of the author’s stupidity:

Just about everyone in academia believes that they were the smartest kid in their class, the one with the good grades and the awesome test scores. They believe, by definition, that they are where they are because they deserve it. They’re the best.

If this freakazoid actually had an education, he’d know that yapping stupidly about what “everyone” does or does not believe is completely ridiculous and makes him sound like an idiot that he is. It would be phenomenal to work in an environment where everybody had this healthy self-esteem. Sadly, though, I have never encountered this crowd of folks with robust psychological health in academia. I’ve taught in different countries, different states in the US, different types of university, I have spoken at regional, national and international conferences, I have met people from a variety of colleges around the world. Most of these academics are tortured with endless self-doubt all day long. The rest are lucky enough only to experience it every other day.

What is really sad is that all of these endless and endlessly boring articles keep erasing universities like mine in a dogged fashion of true fanatics. My school charges the lowest tuition by far in the state, provides students with textbooks so that they don’t have to spend money on them, does not exploit adjuncts, does not pay excessive salaries to administrators. Yet the people who claim to be extremely preoccupied with the future of academia never mention us as a model that is worthy of emulation. If they really gave a damn about improving the existing model of higher ed, wouldn’t it make sense to mention places where things are done in a better way?

We never hear about anything positive happening in academia, though. The completely imaginary student who has a hundred thousand dollars worth of debt after getting a BA is discussed ad nauseam (including in the linked article, of course). And everybody is so eager to hear that higher ed sucks that they never question this obvious lie and never notice all of those students who are the first ones in their family to get a college degree thanks to schools like mine. Their journey of discovering the world is less valuable to the screechers than their fantasy of horrible, mean profs and miserable, stupid students.

P.S. I don’t know if you are following Ian Welsh but he and Thomas Frank are the most prominent peddlers of male hysteria these days. Have you noticed how fashionable it is becoming these days to be a male hysteric? I’m attributing this to misguided attempts to imitate sensitivity. Chest-thumping machismo is not in demand, so more and more men try to look sensitive. Sometimes their efforts look like an embarrassing show of unhinged shrieking we can see in the linked article.

12 thoughts on “Academics’ High Self-Esteem”

  1. There may be some relationship to the fact that, although USA doesn’t have linguistically gendered nouns, everything about the way of thinking there is gendered. I hope I don’t generalize too much — from afar, moreover.

    Academia is feminine, and therefore needs to be chastized and bullied. It is frail and needs to be punched around. Only business is masculine. Really, we have similar sorts of mental confusion here in Australia, where left wing governments are seen to be publicly disgracing us, whereas right wing versions of same raise our self esteem.

    Here is a video I made on the weekend when I was drunk.


            1. Yes, and I agree about the one-track Western mind. It seems like people will not rest until they fit everything into their prefabricated narrative.

              As for Dawkins, I know very little about him. He sounds like a very pompous individual.


  2. The article is about this, which you also complain of at your university —

    “Today, however, the business side of the university has been captured by a class of professionals who have nothing to do with the pedagogical enterprise itself.”

    — and which, if it hasn’t won out yet at your place, should be fought now. Shooting the messenger was never a good long- or even medium-term strategy.


        1. I’m not very interested in these rich people and their journey from a big salary to a huge salary. I’m a lot more interested in this poor schmuck who will be exploited for 3 years by Bates College and then spit out. Those who have a choice can and will do whatever they feel like, and good for them. It’s the ones who have no choice that get exploited.


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