Poor Teachers

Teaching has always been one of those professions which is driven by passion or idealism — the desire to teach the young about a subject the teacher thinks is worthwhile for them to know — and as with all professions that can call on people with such idealism, the pay sucks. It’s just as true for professions like acting, advertising, music and the like: you’ve got a market which just begs to exploit its workers, hence the appearance of institutions like the Screen Actors Guild and teachers’ unions which negotiate things like pay scales and working hours.

The people who sit at the bottom end of the totem pole are the part-timers: the people who don’t work enough to qualify for industry benefits, or who are kept outside the part of the hierarchy which does. Part-time creative types (as explored here) employed by ad agencies are little more than hired guns, used for a particular project and then fired when the thing ends.

What happened in tertiary education was that the academe created one way to protect its long-serving or more meritorious teachers: tenure, or the reward for a person who could continue to work at their subject (with research and/or teaching) with a certain degree of job security. It’s the dictionary definition of a guild, by the way.

I remember talking to several of my erstwhile professors when I was still a student and thinking about life after graduation, and while all of them encouraged me to go further with post-grad study (a couple still pester me to do so, incidentally), they were also all very circumspect in telling me that my job prospects would be good (because of my scholarship), but my actual employment was likely to be shaky. Even with a PhD., the best I could hope for was adjunct-professorship, which did not excite me for obvious reasons. (Then Life intervened and I had to quit any thoughts of doing that anyway.)

So this article (via Insty) evoked from me a wry smile, because it epitomizes for me not the plight of the adjunct professor who’s been forced to become a call-girl, but just emblematic of the teaching profession in general.

There is nothing she would rather do than teach. But after supplementing her career with tutoring and proofreading, the university lecturer decided to go to remarkable lengths to make her career financially viable.
She first opted for her side gig during a particularly rough patch, several years ago, when her course load was suddenly cut in half and her income plunged, putting her on the brink of eviction. “In my mind I was like, I’ve had one-night stands, how bad can it be?” she said. “And it wasn’t that bad.”

Sex work is one of the more unusual ways that adjuncts have avoided living in poverty, and perhaps even homelessness.

I used to know two women, one a schoolteacher, the other a theater actress, who had to resort to this activity because they just couldn’t make ends meet on their pittance of a salary. And I’ve talked before about how I feel about prostitution — or rather, the change in my attitude towards it over time. And ironically, female adjuncts have it easier because the prostitution market favors women over men. Men deliver pizzas, women sell their bodies.

Glenn thinks that this phenomenon means that the Ivy League should be abolished. I differ somewhat in that I fail to see why academics should be treated differently from any other profession — in other words, if adjunct professors as a group are being ill-treated by their employers, they should form a union just as movie actors did back in the 1930s. There’s nothing sacred about the academe, after all: it’s a profession like any other; and its purported lofty idealism doesn’t make it any more special — especially when the institution treats its lower-tier workers so badly that they have to fuck strangers for money just to make ends meet.

So they’ve started to talk about unionizing, with a predictable response from the academe, which has ironically proven itself to be little different from the Gilded Age robber barons they would normally excoriate. In other words, the education establishment is no different from any other commercial institution, which kind of undermines the whole “sacred mission of educating” nonsense they’ve been spouting for decades.

And if they’re going to behave like corporations, perhaps — no, not perhaps — we should start treating them like one. On current performance, therefore, their results are pathetic: high dropout rates, ill-educated graduates, no ROI on university degrees, over-reliance on government funding, overpaid senior executives and authoritarian management. And let’s not forget our original thesis: junior staff needing to resort to prostitution to supplement their inadequate wages.

John D. Rockefeller would have fired the lot, if they’d run one of his companies in this way.

College Degrees Not Worth Much

…says this study (found via Insty).

Americans are losing faith in the value of a college degree, with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying college isn’t worth the cost, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey shows.

No kidding. With all the PC bullshit happening on college campuses these days, not to mention crap courses like “Feminist Basket Weaving”, it’s not surprising. One finding that got my attention, however, is this one:

Some Americans believe learning a trade offers more security than going to college.

Well, yeah. Depending on the trade, it almost always did, especially when weighed against courses in the Humanities and the debt incurred by getting said degrees. (It’s not true when measured against a degree in, say, electrical engineering, of course.)

Then again, most people are more qualified to learn a trade than they are to attend college in the first place.

And the first warning sign was that government (of the Democrat / Labour Party persuasion) stated that a college degree was desirable for all young people, and put policies into place to support that idiotic idea. Billions of dollars of student debt, high unemployment rates among Millennials, lowered academic standards and staggeringly-high college tuition fees followed swiftly, to the surprise of no one except those government tools.

As seen on these pages but a couple days back, I’ve always advised young people to get a trade first, then go to college — especially if you’re not quite sure what degree you want to get — because as a fallback, a trade like carpentry or plumbing sure as hell beats begging for that barrista job at a coffee shop. And if your goal in life is to own your own business (which it should be), a trade beats the hell out of an MBA as a foundation thereof.

So yeah, it’s not surprising that the value of a college degree is being called to question. Reality will do that to ya.

What Karma?

Some tool of an academic [redundancy alert] named Ken Storey suggested that for Tropical Storm Harvey’s deluge on Texas, “I don’t believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn’t care about them.”

Naturally, because he’s just a sociology professor, Storey wasn’t to know that Houston’s Harris County (which bore the brunt of the storm’s fury) actually went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, so perhaps this “karma” of which he wrote was actually punishment for them… if I believed in that karma nonsense, of course, which I don’t.

Regardless, maybe the real karma is that the shithead has since been fired by his employer, University of Tampa. Maybe he can blame that on Trump, just like all his little Leftist buddies do whenever catastrophe strikes.

I have to say that ordinarily, I wouldn’t agree with his firing simply for expressing an opinion. I would, however, suggest that someone in a position of public trust (i.e. a teacher) who acts like a total dickhead definitely needs a lesson in manners. Firing him is no good — he’s sure to be welcomed with open arms somewhere like Oberlin or UMass — and I’d have simply demoted him or suspended him without pay for a couple semesters.

But hey, if it makes other Lefties think twice before yapping their nonsense, maybe this will be worth it.

Speed Bump

Via Insty, I was reading this article which talks about how the First Amendment is designed to protect unpopular speech, and everyone’s speech in general, when this little sentence stopped me in my tracks (with my emphasis on the part which did so):

For White and Czjetanovic, being white nationalists has no impact on their ability to do their jobs. Had they held other jobs in which their white nationalism would directly affect their job performance, perhaps the internet mob would be justified in its quest to take heads (white nationalists shouldn’t be teaching WWII history to impressionable middle school students, for example).

Here’s where this little thing falls apart. We conservatives have been aghast at how “impressionable middle school students” have, for decades now, been taught by Frankfurt-School socialists, who have been busy with their little Gramscian plan of inculcating Marxist principles and Weltanschauung into our kids — and now I’m supposed to bristle at the thought of white nationalists teaching in middle-school classrooms?

The author (Bethany Daniel) has done precisely what she argues against in her article: she’s conflated white supremacists with Western Civ devotees (like myself). Frankly, if a white nationalist teacher kept herself in check and kept the racist shit to herself while extolling the value of Western Civilization when teaching history to middleschoolers, I’d rather see that than some vapid socialist twerpette interpreting WWII as a struggle between the patriotic proletariat of the glorious Soviet Union and the oppressive capitalist systems of the West.

The difference is that socialists are quite unapologetic about their propagandizing — even while teaching impressionable middle school students — while we Western Civ boosters have to be constantly on the defensive about our position lest we offend someone in the Perpetually Offended Set because racism.

Screw that. Given that bias is inevitable in any teaching system, the goal should be to stop not just white nationalists from teaching, but Marxists as well. Sadly, the education hierarchy in the West is only doing half the job.

You Can’t Say That Here

Tyler Durden (the other one) talks about how free speech is increasingly becoming criminalized, and it’s absolutely true, of course. When someone can get jailed for “hate” speech (my favorite kind, especially when it pertains to politicians of all stripes and Marxist politicians in particular), and when simply wearing a T-shirt can get one into trouble (try wearing a MAGA shirt on the Berkeley campus, for example), it’s easy to prove Tyler’s thesis.

I have two anecdotes on the above, relating to my oh-so brief period as a full-time student at a four-year college. (I should mention up front that while U of North Texas is, by Texas standards, an island of PC and Green groupthink, it’s like Hillsdale College by comparison to Yale or Berkeley.)

Anyway, sometime during my second week on campus I was strolling towards the coffee bar at the student union building or whatever they called it, when I saw a small expanse of lawn, maybe forty feet square, in front of which was a small sign designating this lawn as a “free speech zone — permit required” area. I happened to see one of my professors walking towards me, and I stopped her.

“Am I seeing things, or is this the only place on campus where someone can make a speech? And you need a permit?”
“Uh huh,” she replied, clearly oblivious of the trap I was setting for her, “You get it from the Student Affairs office.”
“Doesn’t sound very free to me,” I observed. “If one has to get a permit to speak, it could, theoretically, be turned down?”
“Oh, they hardly ever refuse a speaking permit.”
Hardly ever doesn’t really seem to jibe with free, does it?”
“Well, they try to avoid allowing anything that would rile up other students.”
“So if I stood up there, permit in hand, and started yelling that women and niggers shouldn’t be allowed to vote, there’d be repercussions?”
She flinched at the sound of the word “niggers”, which was my intention all along. “You’d probably be suspended!”
“So really, it’s not a free speech zone at all, is it?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Exactly how is it free, when I have to get permission to speak, the content is subject to penalty, and where I can speak is constrained by regulation?”
She had no answer to that, but walked off with a horrified look on her face. As did I. I can only imagine the discussion in the faculty lounge later that day. (Despite the evidence that I was a troublemaker, I still got an A for the course because after a few lectures it was clear, both to the prof and to the other students, that I could have taught the class. So why did I take the class, then? It fulfilled a stupid requirement, and as it was an easy A, it freed up time for me to concentrate on Post-WWII German Economic History, which was an absolute monster.)

The second of my many brushes with this free speech foolishness was when I saw a student, a young kid of maybe nineteen, wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt. As we were in a classroom waiting for the professor to arrive, I thought I’d have a little fun.

“Why are you wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt?” I asked.
He looked down, as though seeing it for the first time. “‘Cause it looks cool.”
“You mean, you like the design, or you approve of his revolutionary ethos?”
I think he was a little confused by the word “ethos”, but he replied, “Both. He was a cool dude.”
“You know he was a mass murderer, right?”
The little shit smirked. “He was doin’ what had to be done.”
“Killing his political enemies, without a trial or any legal procedure, just lining them up and mowing them down with a machine gun?”
The kid started looking uncomfortable. “He didn’t do any of that.”
“You know there’s photographic and documentary proof that he did, right? And you know one of his most famous quotes?” (Long ago, I’d taken the trouble to memorize this one, for just such an occasion.)
To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail.” I paused. “Still think he was a cool dude?”
The kid was saved further embarrassment by the arrival of the professor, but after the class another kid came up to me and said, “Dude! That was awesome! Can you write that down for me, what Che said?”

Maybe, just maybe, I prevented at least one kid from becoming a Marxist. At worst, I exposed the other kids in the class to the reality of Guevara’s barbarity. One at a time, folks; one at a time.

Back To School — An Introduction

After the end of my old blog, The Mrs. decreed that before her health got too bad, she wanted to fulfill her lifelong dream and go live in France for a few years. Of course, our finances would not allow us to do that — Paris is obscenely expensive in terms of apartment rental, not to mention all the other stuff — so she came up with a Grand Plan.

“You’ll just have to work there to support us.”

“Doing what?”

“Teach. At an American school or something.” (Grand Plans, by definition, are somewhat vague on details.)

“But I can’t get a teaching job without a university degree.”

“So get one.”

Therefore at age 55, it was back to school for Kim, with (in the Bard’s words): “shining morning face, creeping like a snail unwillingly to school”. One and a half years at community college to get the “core” courses (what I thought would have been covered in high school, silly me), followed by one and a half years to get my B.A. (I took on a per-semester course load which would have made John Milton weep, and took every summer class I could).

Anyway, to make a very long story not quite so long, at age 58 I graduated summa cum laude from University of North Texas with a B.A. (History, Modern Western Europe emphasis).

During my last semester at UNT I started looking at American schools first in Paris, then elsewhere in France as a backup. (I speak both French and German more or less fluently, but The Mrs. didn’t like the idea of living in Germany even though it would have been a lot easier to find a gig at a U.S. military base.)

Then Connie’s health went over a cliff. First, her back collapsed completely, necessitating several spinal operations which didn’t help, but reduced her height from 6’1″ to 5’11”. Mobility was going to be an issue, so a ground-floor apartment in Paris was going to be the only option.

And then came cancer: Stage 4 ovarian, with a 95% mortality rate. At that point, a move out of the country was clearly impossible.

I’m not going to dwell on the latter, for reasons I’m sure you understand. What I am going to talk about, in the months that follow, are my experiences at an institute of hire learning [sic] and my encounters with academia. If you think of me as that “Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur”, only with a very bad attitude, you won’t be far wrong.

Oh, and lest anyone’s still curious about my finances and the need for a GoFundMe appeal, allow me to add just two words: student loans. The tuition at Collin College was paid in cash; the tuition at UNT was not.