Monday, April 4, 2011

Law of Diminishing Expectations

This is an interesting article (it is currently behind a paywall but will come out in a week or so). There seems to be a sub-text here that a generation ago a number of PhD grads had to "settle" for a lower tier university just to have a teaching job. It would appear that those that made such a deep sacrifice of hopes and expectations discovered the joys of teaching undergraduates and the bitterness of failure has been washed clean by the chamomile bath of mediocrity (mediocrity = re-definition of success). I doubt that the PUIs are entirely populated by faculty that dropped off the conveyor belt with newly minted PhDs and hopes to teach undergraduates. On the other hand I do know that many of us in our graduate work and post-docs looked at the research intensive life and said "You know what ... I'd rather spend my life (and in reality the same amount of time and commitment to work) helping people face to face then spending day after day in frantic scramble to stay current, submit and maintain grants and publish largely derivative work." I have to admit that I am unaware of any decent study that looks at the expectation and intentions of faculty in chemistry PUIs. It would be worth a look.

1 comment:

Not a wine critic said...

You know what ... I'd rather spend my life (and in reality the same amount of time and commitment to work) helping people face to face then spending day after day in frantic scramble to stay current, submit and maintain grants and publish largely derivative work.

Oddly (or not so oddly) enough, that was my motivation for seeking and taking my position. I see no reason to add to the giant pile of pointless papers being published in second-rate journals.

WRT second-rate journals, one problem I found in graduate school was that there are just enough useful or interesting papers published in said journals that you can't just ignore them if you expect to stay up-to-the-minute. That meant that, in grad school, I was at least scanning a couple of dozen a week -- journals, not articles -- not all of them the same ones.

Roald Hoffman says that's what he does, too.

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For a while it was all about research and then it was all about teaching and now it's all about trying to find a balance while teaching at a small liberal arts and science university.