Lost Faith

I just read a long discussion on FB where people seriously argued that there is no difference between hiring a person with an MA and a PhD. The attempts to explain that some administrators, in order to save money, hire instructors with MAs to do the work meant for people with PhD skill set + publications + experience and that weakens programs enormously failed. Instead of engaging in a productive discussion, people complained about credentialism.

I lost faith in humanity and decided to fight insomnia with melatonin instead of Facebook.


25 thoughts on “Lost Faith”

  1. 1) Why would you stare at a glowing screen with lots of blue light to fight insomnia?
    What’s also useful to help induce sleep are eye masks, blackout curtains, white noise machines and earplugs (if it’s really noisy).
    2) Were any of these people in academia?
    3)I can only say that even as an undergrad I noticed the difference between Ph.Ds who had active research agendas and those who did not.


    1. The glow doesn’t mess up my sleep but idiocy does. ๐Ÿ™‚

      In academia, we are in thrall to political correctness. It’s elitist to suggest that a PhD gives you anything that an MA (and I don’t even mean an ABD, I mean an actual MA) doesn’t. We are great at denying the painfully obvious in service of niceness.


  2. God, you actually saw that? And that is a group that is supposed to be progressive. And now I am losing faith in progressives, like you. I learned from the discussion that these people in English are making this ridiculous defense because they are too lazy to fight for the tenure-track hires they need, and are using anti-credentialism as their defense. They are so committed to self-delusion and dishonesty, it is frightening.


    1. I’m sorry I shadowed your discussion. I don’t usually do this kind of thing but I started reading and got sucked in. I’m with you 100%. The discussion was ridiculous, and I can’t believe people were honestly not understanding what you were saying. This is a problem we all encounter, and let’s just be honest about it. God. If you aren’t strong enough to fight this, ok. But at least don’t stand in the way of those who do.


      1. English departments have disintegrated entirely, it is clear. If all they can do for people without the possibility of tenure, and low salaries, is say “I am so sorry, I don’t deserve my job more than you deserve it” then they do NOT deserve it. It is also really amazing that they do not think the Ph.D. is worth anything.


        1. I can’t find words to explain how frustrating it is to fight to save the program from disintegrating and turning into a language school without any intellectual weight and have one’s own colleagues either indifferent or actively undermining the effort. I have no problem fighting the administration. I live fighting the administration. But if there is no solidarity and no shared vision, I’m powerless.

          I’m very frustrated and saddened right now. I can’t make myself be the kind of person who says, I only care about my research and fuck everything and everybody else. But I lost my only ally in my struggle and I’m very alone right now.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a similar feeling recently when I was involved in a conversation about a proposed new PhD program in Humanities designed for people who do not want to pursue academic careers. My initial thought was that this was a terrible idea. What person in their right mind would even apply to do that sort of program ? Everyone else seemed to think it was a great idea.


  4. A Ph. D. is compact, portable evidence of ones competence in a field. It is strong but not conclusive evidence either way. I have known a few people without a Ph. D. who have outstanding research and publication records. I also have known a few people with a Ph. D. who did not seem competent at what they were supposedly qualified to do. These are unusual exceptions, but they are common enough that no one has license to use the presence or absence of a Ph. D. as an excuse to avoid all independent judgement.


    1. That doesn’t justify downgrading professorships to instructorships, or doing a search for an M.A. instead of a Ph.D. on the theory that you’ll maybe get lucky and find an M.A. who has a certain kind of education, professional orientation and research program. Generally speaking the people who do NOT go on are those who are NOT interested in the kind of career path that takes a Ph.D.


      1. Exactly. And it’s perfectly fine to decide not to do a PhD and not to want this life. I have every respect for my colleagues with MAs. But it’s simply a different job. Good, important but different.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Absolutely. But I admit that I was angry when the dean of my college said a couple of years ago that he would never hire anyone without a terminal degree for a tenured or tenure-track job under any circumstances whatsoever. But downgrading jobs and searching for people without doctoral degrees is just wrong.


          1. Iโ€™m not for fetishizing the Ph.D. But that thread was just nuts, or had a different agenda. They were harping about:
            1/ need to respect others โ€” people may not have terminal degree, but have expertise, research agenda
            2/ need for job protection and rights for all
            They were not willing to think about things like program quality. They must have so many tenure track and tenured people that they donโ€™t have to worry about not having enough.

            I came to the conclusion that they were in fact trying to be nice about people like *me* โ€” underutilized yet overworked.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I went back to the thread but it raises my hackles and I can’t participate. Program quality suffers. It does. Why are we pretending that it’s not true? I think it’s about false egalitarianism.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. It totally is. They deflect the question to the issue of being civil to their NTTs. So that shows how Neanderthal they are — they are still trying to learn to be civil to people. Now, in college, I have counted. I had professors and TAs who were advanced graduate students. All of them were different, but all were good. I had a few classes from NTTs. Let’s discuss, because 4 of the 5 were non-memorable courses.
                Spanish 4: FTE lecturer, overworked, tired, not incompetent or irresponsible but thin and not inspiring.
                French 14B: some kind of lecturer, fluff course, well meaning and again not incompetent, but ho-hum
                French 103A: MA instructor, great, but he was one of those who have projects and do research, and his lover was Leo Bersani so obviously, his interlocutors were all intellectuals too
                Spanish 107B: NTT PhD, thin
                Scandinavian 101A-B, 144A-B: NTT PhD — again, all right but thin
                Economics 1: lecturer TT, not sure of degree, thin, disorganized

                So, of 48 courses taken, 9 taught by NTT. 1 taught by a TA, excellent, and the rest taught by professors who sometimes also had TAs, good.

                What does this mean? Tenure track improves people. All hands to TT!


  5. Oh yes, and there was a math course, bad too. I had taken regular calculus for 2 quarters with good professor and TAs, then thought I could get more in a semester by taking something for nonmajors, big mistake, we got this lecturer who was a nice man but ridiculous course. So 11 of my 48 courses were by NTT persons, and of these, 10 were my worst courses. Now that thread can come and shoot me.


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