Post Academic


No Respect! Thomas H. Benton on the Rising Rage Against the Professor

Posted in Breaking Academic Stereotypes by Caroline Roberts on October 4, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThe title for the latest by Thomas H. Benton/William Pannapacker is a little plaintive: “Why Do They Hate Us?” Of course, “Us” refers to academics.

Although I haven’t been a member of the academic flock for a while, the statements Benton/Pannapacker says he’s heard from non-academics piss me off. Frankly, I think professors and academics should stand up for themselves more often. Only lawyers catch more crap for their jobs, but they don’t put up with it, and they make more money.  Here are some fantasy responses I have to a few of the statements Benton/Pannapacker provides, and you can feel free to swipe them in case you encounter someone who disrespects your work:

“Being a professor is good money for, like, six hours of work per week. What do you do with all that free time?”
It’s not just the classroom time. You try grading the papers of at least 20 or 30 students in a classroom. This gets real customer servicey and would have most hamsters running for the hills. Oh, and you can also try teaching students who are at wildly different ability levels. And then you have to stay on top of your research and write papers so you can get tenure. I’m just getting warmed up. Someone who knows a little more about the profession might say that at least the job isn’t a 9-to-5. That’s true, but as anyone on a flexible schedule knows, that can be a blessing and a curse.

No respect! Image of Rodney Dangerfield at the Shorehaven Beach Club in New York in 1978. By Jim Accordino from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

“I wish I had tenure and didn’t have to worry about being fired for not doing my job.”
If you had a bad experience, I’m sorry. Please realize that most professors are hardworking and diligent. If you didn’t have a bad experience, you really shouldn’t believe everything you see in the movies. And if you do believe everything you see in the movies, you should have done a better job listening in class.

“Why don’t you English profs just teach people how to write?”
It’s news to me that English profs don’t do this. This is usually a not-so-veiled critique of a professor’s presumed politics, which Arnold addressed in a recent post. Part of learning how to write involves learning how to read, and that means learning how to think critically. That means learning how to question everything and how to detect logical fallacies. That doesn’t mean learning how to vote.

“I still owe more than $50,000 for my undergraduate degree, and it’s never done me any good.”
You sure that’s not the economy causing your problems? You might also want to chat with the financial aid office, the people who gave you your loans and your political representation rather than the professors themselves. Besides, professors don’t see much of that $50,000 that you just shelled out.

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2 Responses to 'No Respect! Thomas H. Benton on the Rising Rage Against the Professor'

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  1. LOL, I always enjoy his columns, and bless him for trying to tell people what’s really going on!

  2. findingserenity2010 said,

    I can also relate. Granted I don’t talk for the tenure-track university crowd, but I don’t think anybody understands that, especially for adjunct instructors at community colleges, their teachers get paid NOTHING for prep time or grading papers. Just the 6 hours of contact and a few hours for office availability. And it’s less than a cushy salary, but we make up the majority of the teaching force out there.

    And as for the crap on RateMyProfessor – it’s only the people who feel like their professors did them wrong that speak up the loudest – nobody ever hears good stories about instructors that challenge them and actually try to make them think!


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