Post Academic

Rage Against the Professor

Posted in The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on April 14, 2010
Tags: , , , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThe report on professor salaries made it to the Huffington Post, and this information generated some wild speculation on what professors make and what it is they actually do. Some of the comments reflected a streak of anger toward professors in general and could be summed up as “quit yer bitching.” The comments swiftly turned into a debate over whether or not professors were valuable, period:

“I had drunks for professors, BORING professors who read out of the book, MEAN professors, you name it. And they all had tenure.”*

“These professors have a bloated sense of entitlement. At least they got an average increase!”

“Professors are no doubt due a decent salary – but the fact that they get the salary they do while being GROSSLY under worked is driving the cost through the roof.”

“Educators love to site the “prep time” and all the “work” that happens outside the actual teaching in a classroom. Perhaps these people that thrive on education should spend some time educating themselves about the real world.”

More after the jump! Image from Wikimedia Commons, US Department of Agriculture, public domain.

One commenter named PNC offered an admirable defense of the profession:
“I love what I do and I’m not complaining, but don’t tell me I don’t work for my money. I spent 8 years in grad school living below the poverty level in order to pursue what I loved and get a job that would be satisfying. I never expected to get rich and there’s no danger of it. But please don’t dismiss what I do as worthless without a full understanding of my work.”

Just for fun, if we accept the argument that some professors are overpaid, they aren’t overpaid nearly on the level of bankers and CEOs. Yet the rage against the professor is almost as high as that against the CEO. Could it be because people can actually remember a professor who flunked them? Or they have terrible flashbacks of papers doused in red ink? It’s funny how it is easy to set aside the personal when thinking of some careers, but professors and teachers tend to inspire considerable pique.

*Oh, the stereotype of the alcoholic horndog tenured English professor. A topic for another time.

Study: Professor Salaries See Minuscule Increase [Huffington Post]

2 Responses to 'Rage Against the Professor'

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  1. Jeannette said,

    I have been a lurker for a while. I truly enjoy the posts. The rage against professors is unfounded. Academics need to assert that most professors aren’t overpaid and really bad at their job. Every single faculty member I know works damn hard especially when dealing with Freshman and Seniors. There is so much surveillance of professors that the kind of incompetence that is par for the course in university administration is virtually unthinkable for the professorate. I don’t deny that there are incompetent and/or overpaid professors. But most of us are under so much pressure, whether it is a heavy teaching load, unreasonable publishing requirements, demanding service expectations, or any combination of these. I know professors who don’t have significant or any disposable income. We need to make it known that the rage should be directed at university administration. This is where the bloat is and not the academics. (I really should no longer use we when talking about academics since I am leaving academia, but this rage is so unfair that I had to respond.)

  2. Thank you so much for commenting! I totally agree that academics need a PR campaign to overcome the stereotypes. But where would academics find the time on top of the grading, service, writing, counseling, and everything else that comes with being a professor?

    On the bright side, I think that more people are realizing that the university administration deserves more rage than the professors themselves.

    And good luck on leaving academia! If you ever have any questions, please send them along!

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