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June 13, 2011

Maybe A Professor Could Research This

A recent study (pdf) addressing the spiraling tuition costs at American universities suggests a course of action that can only be described as radical:

Have professors teach students.

The word you’re looking for is “revolutionary.”

Of course, having professors teach students is like having bacon with eggs. It’s a ridiculous proposition. No one is going to do that.

However, according to one of the study’s authors, Richard Mr. Vedder, a professor of economics at Ohio University:

"In a study for the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Christopher Matgouranis, Jonathan Robe and I concluded that tuition fees at the flagship campus of the University of Texas could be cut by as much as half simply by asking the 80% of faculty with the lowest teaching loads to teach about half as much as the 20% of faculty with the highest loads. The top 20% currently handle 57% of all teaching."

What would be the practical implications of such a proposal?

That would require the professor to be in the classroom for fewer than 200 hours a year.”

Do the math, and you have to wonder what Mr. Vedder and his colleagues have been smoking lately.  We’re talking as much as five solid weeks of classroom work a year. When are they supposed to find time for that what with all their research obligations? You think those elbow patches sew themselves on tweed jackets?

Of course, something would have to give, and if you want professors teaching we have to face the very real possibility that it would take time away from their invaluable research. As Mr. Vedder points out, professors barely have time now to have created 21,000 articles about Shakespeare since 1980.

No doubt you are asking yourself, “Only 21,000? Surely there is more critical research that needs to be done on the man and his 500-year-old plays!”

The problem is you already have 15 of the 70 top colleges and universities requiring English majors to take a course in Shakespeare. That’s 15 colleges that already have professors teaching students in the classroom rather than exploring how lovesickness discourse represents and shapes love and transgressive erotic subjects in Twelfth Night.

Hey, if we don’t explore how early modern patriarchy is neither static nor seamless, and that the construction of gender and sexuality is fluid and heterogeneous, you can bet the Chinese will.

So enough of this “professors should teach students” crazy talk and let’s get back to what made American universities the envy of the world:

Crooked sports programs.

Professors teaching, sheesh. Next thing you know they'll want students to learn.

Shaping Young Minds

J.

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June 13, 2011 at 02:33 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink

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