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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: September ::
Re: State of the Profession
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0698.  Thursday, 26 September 1996.

(1)     From:   Thomas Ruddick <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Sep 96 13:20:50 EST
        Subj:   re: SHK 7.0695 re...re....re.....the state of the profession

(2)     From:   Dan Pigg <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Sep 1996 11:40:58 -600 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: State of Profession


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Ruddick <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Sep 96 13:20:50 EST
Subject: 7.0695 re...re....re.....the state of the profession
Comment:        re: SHK 7.0695 re...re....re.....the state of the profession

Jeff Myers notes that the intrinsic worth and joy of education is itself an
end, and he notes that this affords some defense (beyond that of self-
interest) to efforts to save Bill Godschalk and his colleagues at the doomed
doctoral program of the University of Cincinnati.

Working as I do at an Ohio community college, and formerly employed at U.C., I
confess to a bit of sangenfreude as I saw the state board of regents choose to
aim their axes at doctoral programs rather than A.A.S. degrees.  However,
beyond my self-interest [which I have every bit as much of as Bill, and which I
respect him for recognizing] there are other issues unmentioned here.

If educational monies are tight, where should the cuts be made?  At the earlier
levels where we increase the likelihood that some will grow up utterly
illiterate, or at the highest levels where the alternative to a few more years
of reading and writing about literature might be (as Myers puts it) an honest
job at Wal-Mart?

Again and again I try to puzzle through the problems of funding for education,
and I come back to the conclusion that either we as educators don't understand
our own problems or we are unable to communicate the truth about them
effectively--and in either case that makes us (collectively, not individually
of course) into bad educators.

Perhaps I'm wrong but it seems to me that there's plenty of money being spent
on education in this country.  The difference between now and 1960 is that
then, funding went directly to the schools; now, it is filtered through dozens
of grant programs and titles and student-aid programs. This process means that
about half of the dollars spent for education wind up going to banks and
bureaucrats.  Meanwhile, the schools must employ dozens of extra clerical and
administrative personnel to apply, comply, administer, and help students with
all of the fragmented funding programs.

My conclusion: if we as educators go on a public information campaign to
promote the election of legislators who will go back to a simple system of
direct funding, then many of our money problems will go away.

I fear it may be too late for the current generation of scholars to do this
effectively.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan Pigg <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Sep 1996 11:40:58 -600 (CDT)
Subject:        Re: State of Profession

The discussion on the state of the profession has been interesting to me,
perhaps because as a relatively new Assoc. Prof, I still hold on to the
illusion of being able to move on. That was not, however, the point that I
wanted to make. My dept. has some members from so-called top flight
institutions and a number from less elite, but nonetheless strong programs.

Departments vary, and some people who have been educated with the notions that
they will teach courses like "Drama, Plague, and Cross-gendering in the Theatre
of Shakespeare's Day" are probably going to face the reality that in many
universities around America the course will be an undergraduate course merely
entitled "Shakespeare" offered once every year or perhaps once every two years.
 (My statement of course title is not intended to suggest that I disapprove of
critical approaches in classroom instruction.  My students have to critique
four articles from a variety of critical perspectives, including the growing
areas of gender studies.)

My dept. teaches Shakespeare every fall semester with courses in 16th c. Brit.
lit and 17th c. Brit lit. offered in alternating years.  I don't think
undergraduate only instituitions are radically different from what I have
described.  My job could hardly be called luxuriant.  I teach two First-year
comp courses each semester, usually a soph. survey of British lit (usually the
first segment to 1800), and an upper-division course in some area of medieval
or Renaissance literature.  Given the load that is characteristic at my
institution, I would wonder if a person whose sights are only the elite would
function in such a "china shop."  I for one think that many grad programs in
English are often leading candidates into false assumptions about jobs.  There
are many kinds of institutions, and a broad range of PhD institutions prepare
candidates for jobs for that variety. Many people already know that the most
elite institutions do not necessarily produce the best teachers, and while
almost all institutions require some scholarly activity to energize classroom
teaching, excellent performance in the classroom setting is becoming more
important in most places.  And it is sometimes the case that individuals
educated primarily at elite institutions do not mesh with the culturally
diverse world of public institutions, but I realize this statement is a
generalization.

Dan
 

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