here's some academic tea

and it's not funny because it is true

Classes were canceled for the last two days and I am freaking out because with classes that meet once a week, we’ve already missed the first week! How will the class be restructured? Will we get assignments for next week? Help me! You can’t throw a school-a-holic into such turmoil! Meanwhile, let’s talk shit….

Academia is broken and I don’t know how I can fix it. I suppose just being in it and trying not to succumb to the systems that perpetuate it, but I am still in it, there are certain things I have to do to get it. But I feel some freedom because I don’t want to pursue a tenure track faculty job. The only truth tellers about the shitty parts of academia are those who have full tenure and are untouchable, or those who have left and don’t plan on coming back. And if you write about it on the internet, it is forever.

I like to think of myself in the gray area; I obviously don’t want to make a name for myself where it blocks every path, but I also want to be realistic about it.

[For some of the links that are paywalled, I’m linking to my instapaper version.]

Higher Education is drowning in BS.

BS is the ideologically infused jargon deployed by various fields to stake out in-group self-importance and insulate them from accountability to those not fluent in such solipsistic language games.

BS is a tenure system that provides guaranteed lifetime employment to faculty who are lousy teachers and inactive scholars, not because they espouse unpopular viewpoints that need the protection of "academic freedom," but only because years ago they somehow were granted tenure.

Tenure is not the same thing in each university. It’s a series of hoops that resemble an academic obstacle course from Double Dare.

Why we are giving up conferences in 2019.

You already know my stances on conferences. But here’s some more good points.

But most of all we hate grovelling, begging for recognition from an indifferent and apparently immovable institution. For a long time, we assumed we were just not working hard enough to explain ourselves, the value of our project, our rigor and process, our passion for the material. That maybe if we did the right conferences, spoke to the right people at mixers, we wouldn’t be treated like unreasonable harpies, demanding outsiders, or, worst, like we were invisible.

How do I fix this? Higher education is caught up in a capitalist trap where the experience is shaped on what the “customer” wants, which, is a degree that can get them a job. What they “need”, aka what benefits society, is more of an education that encourages critical thinking and learning new ideas.  

I’ve been thinking about art criticism lately, and how it has become its own critical study. I always think any art is available to criticism, but when a bad review can directly affect the commercial viability, is there a moral imperative? Here’s a good Slate article that I have been thinking about a lot.

I still read for fun for 10 minutes a day, and I’ve used it on Kristen Roupenian’s short story collection, You Know You Want This. You may know her as the author of Cat Person, the short story that launched a thousand think pieces.

I want to answer your questions! Reply here to ask me advice about school, life, nuclear physics.

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All content reflects my individual views and is not associated with any university, department, faculty, or students. Names and situations mentioned have been changed.