Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Jane/Joshua's "Cut 'n' Paste Poetics Blogwar," which is almost too accurate to be funny.
Lori Jareo, a big Star Wars fan, has advertised her "non-canonical" print-on-demand SW novel, Another Hope, on Amazon.com; unfortunately, she never got around to asking the Lucas people for permission to write about their "universe." Cease and Desist orders have gone out.

I would say "ho-hum," with a bit of the raised eyebrow at the genre of "fan fiction," about which I knew precisely nothing before this crossed the radar screen, except for the fact that Jareo, it turns out, is also one of the proprietors of the WordTech Communications poetry publishing outfit, a POD unit that on its face seems to be making a good faith effort to provide a book outlet for poets who are entirely unplugged from the "scene." And she's published her Stars Wars thing, it seems, under the same imprint. Oh dear. Kids, remember the old school punk adage? If the labels won't bite, then DIY.
[Of interest only to academics – and those who don't want American universities entirely subcontracted out to WalMart and Halliburton:] An "issue paper" from the Department of Education on why college costs so much: it's the faculty, of course. Only room for a few choice morsels of this business-school produced piece o' crap:
The time-honored practice of tenure is costly. Tenure was originally conceived as a means to protect “academic freedom.” [dig those scare quotes] It has evolved into a system to protect job security. A combination of institutional practice and emerging case law has resulted in a situation where institutional flexibility is reduced in two key ways. First, if student demand for academic programs shifts [of course, the life of the mind has always been demand-driven], faculty capacity to deliver it cannot. Tenured faculty members are not interchangeable parts (a physics professor can’t usually teach journalism, and vice versa). [duh]

Colleges are not managed with efficiency as the primary value. [where in God's name did this fellow get the idea that they should be?]
a. Colleges maintain large physical infrastructures that often include libraries, computing centers, academic and student-oriented buildings, power plants, research facilities, theatres and stadiums. This infrastructure is rarely used to capacity.

To understand the management of a college one must understand the unique culture and extraordinary power of the faculty. [Where does this guy teach? I want a job there!] To many faculty, they are the university. [I don't believe this, entirely: in my mind, the university is first its students; then its faculty; then the staff who support the teaching and research that goes on in the institution; I imagine I disagree with Robert Dickeson (the report's author) in seeing administration – what he calls "management" – as little more than a necessary evil. "That government governs best that governs least," said somebody wiser than either of us.] This tenet explains a number of practices that distinguish college management from most other forms of management. Among these practices are: the keen importance of process in undertaking decision-making on campus, a factor that explains the slow-moving pace of change that characterizes most institutions; the assumption that the faculty “own” all curricular decisions, and the concomitant reluctance to challenge that authority when meaningful reform is indicated
The ultimate solution? Scale universities back to internet-based vocational programs serving only the skills students demand the most in order to become happy, profit-making parts in the great industrial machine. No more tenure – those online courses can be taught entirely by adjuncts; no more physical libraries – after all, they can get any data they need on the internet; no more wasteful "research" "releases" for the folks chained to their keyboards grading exams.

Comments on this abomination on Inside Higher Ed and Michael Bérubé.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Hey, we're living in a Wal-Mart world now-and they'd like education knocked down to the level where we teach kids to make change and little else.