Post Academic

Punishing Everyone to Root Out a Slacker: Never a Good Idea

Posted in Breaking Academic Stereotypes by Caroline Roberts on October 15, 2010
Tags: , ,

Image SourceOne of the reasons people get so angry at professors is the existence of genuine academic assholes. They do indeed exist, but they are not representative of the profession. I’ve said this before: If you are irritated about a slacker who has been coasting after tenure, you are in for a shock. Slackers exist in other jobs, too.

For some reason, people are considerably harsher toward academic slackers than they are toward hamster slackers. In the Hamster World, if a company is going off the rails, staff turnover is the result. The company still stands, and the masses seem okay with that. No one says, “Let’s shut down the whole company just to get rid of one dirtbag!” No one says, “I think I’ll undermine the whole company just so I can get revenge on this one person who annoys me!” As for the Ivory Tower, it could use some repairs and fresh blood, sure. But more people cry out that they want to cut tenure, cut funding and burn the whole thing down.

Here’s a truth about life that it took me way too long to figure out: There will always be slackers, and there will always be people who let you down, in any workplace. Just don’t slit everyone’s throat and your own while trying to get at a slacker because slackers are wilier and smarter than you. They’ll be the last ones standing after the whole department or even the whole office has been gutted. They are willing to work hard in order to avoid expending effort later on. Accept their imperfections, avoid helping them whenever possible, rely on the people who get the work done, and move on.

Slacking is not a crime. Image of a hammock by Chris McClave from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

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