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Becoming a professor

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Splog
Diglot
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Czech Republic
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 Message 17 of 31
15 June 2009 at 1:44pm | IP Logged 
Kugel wrote:

As for U.S. high school students having a poor level of education, I think that mainly depends on what school district you are referring to.


By coincidence, there is an interesting article about this in the Economist, which puts the blame on not enough hours in school in the US: http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displayStory.cfm ?story_id=13825184
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Anekantavada
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 Message 18 of 31
16 June 2009 at 12:14am | IP Logged 
Dixon wrote:
Why do engineering students need to be indoctrinated with socialist propaganda in history class when they're paying to learn their trade? Universities are just about the only place in the world where it's still respectable to be a Maoist. One could get a *real* well-rounded education by reading great works of literature, not sitting in a philosophy class in which the professor declares "Everything is absurd!"


I do not know of any university where this is the case. The shrill 'evil Marxist, atheist, brianwashing professor' seems to be a figment of Red Scare imagination rather than a description of any actual pedagogical practices. Marx's influence is unsurprising; he is one of the most important (and misunderstood, by supporters and detractors alike) philosophers and social scientists in history. Marxist influence outside of literary theory is rather overstated, in any event. I have never met a Maoist, or experienced any form of 'indoctrination'.

Splog wrote:
By coincidence, there is an interesting article about this in the Economist, which puts the blame on not enough hours in school in the US: http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displayStory.cfm ?story_id=13825184


I would place the blame on too many unproductive hours in school. I am personally an advocate of 'unschooling', though I certainly admit that it may not feasible for most (uninspired) students. I've attempted to take my education into my own hands ever since discovering that it is far more interesting, efficient, efficacious, and rewarding to do so. The Teaching Company is one of the best educational values available, in my view.

OneEye wrote:
By the way, one wonderful thing about having a "core curriculum" (IMO) is the opportunity to be exposed to some great experts in various fields, rather than high school teachers that are just regurgitating what they learned in their undergrad classes. One of the art history classes I took while studying for my music degree was taught by one of the curators of the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. The other was taught by an Egyptologist that had been on several digs in Egypt and some of his findings were on display at the museum (which hosts one of the largest collections of Egyptian artifacts in the world outside of Egypt itself). I wouldn't have traded those classes for more music classes if you paid me. They were some of the best educational experiences I've ever had, and a high school course in art history would not have provided that.


I do agree with this: Expert instruction from engaging professors who have dedicated their lives (often a significant financial gamble) pursuing their field is far superior to any instruction from high school teachers generally forced to play to the 'lowest common denominator'. The problems seem to stem from professors who care much more about their research than their students; a balance must be struck in this regard.

Edited by Anekantavada on 16 June 2009 at 12:23am

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cordelia0507
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 Message 19 of 31
16 June 2009 at 12:08pm | IP Logged 
The AMERICAN system of studying subjects other than your Major / Minor at university is related to their concept of a "Liberal Arts" education, I believe.

The idea is that you study lots of things such as Philosophy, Western Civilisation, Theory of Knowledge, Composition as part of your UNDERGRADUATE (BA, BSc) and come out a fairly well-rounded academic regardless of your Major.

This is NOT the practice in Europe and the systems that I am familiar with in Asia.

The idea here is that a university-bound student has ALREADY STUDIED these types of topics in Secondary School and will arrive at university with sufficient understanding of these topics. (not always the case according to many...)

You might be given some kind of quick re-run of the basics of Theory of Knowledge, but that's about it. If you've forgotten the Maths you need for your course, how to write an essay or use the basic concepts in Philosophy, it's up to you to get up to scratch.

I considered college in the US. But when I started really planning it, I realised that from my point of view it looked essentially like a four year extension of secondary school. A lot of the content might already be familar to me. Liberal Arts college seemed VERY NICE, INTERESTING AND FUN but bearing in mind the cost, it just didn't seem justifiable to go.

Additionally, the American undergraduate degrees were not valid for entry (in Europe) into any of the professions that interested me at the time.

For a European it seems that the sensible stage at which to consider studying in the US is at Masters or Doctoral levels, not Undergraduate. Additionally, US degrees are frightfully expensive whereas the cost is zero or very low in Europe.

REGARDING BECOMING A PROFESSOR:
You don't just become a professor, it's a gradual progression through the academic roles, starting with research assistant probably, then going on to lecturer and other roles.

Professor is a hard-earned SENIOR title and I think it's rare for anyone to become a professor before their early-mid 30s (probably somebody else here knows more than I do). Basically, you've got to be very passionate, talented and persistent to become a professor of any subject! Additionally there is a lot of 'politics' and networking in the academic world from what I hear. You've got to be prepared to play the game..

There is no guarantee that you are skilled enough in the topic that you are studying to actually become a professor. Many start out with this ambition, but as the subject of study gets increasingly harder they realise that they are in over their head and drop out to join industry or a state job. This has happened to several people I know.

Many are also discouraged by the fact that private employers usually pay a lot better than universities for the same level of skill and they drop out of their planned academic career for that reason. The difference is small to begin with, but gradually the person starts noticing his peers earning the big bucks elsewhere and his drive for material possessions wins over his academic aspirations.







Edited by cordelia0507 on 16 June 2009 at 2:52pm

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cordelia0507
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 Message 20 of 31
16 June 2009 at 12:44pm | IP Logged 
Anekantavada wrote:
[quote=Dixon]Why do engineering students need to be indoctrinated with socialist propaganda in history class when they're paying to learn their trade?


Lol, I wouldn't call it "propaganda" but this happened to me actually, at university in Sweden. Most of the lecturers in Pol Science, Sociology and Social work were hard-core Marxists or Socialists. A lot of the first-year reading material was flaming red. I had not expected it to that degree.

This was in the mid-90s when USSR had dis-integrated and Eastern Europe had largely dropped Socialism, so it was surprising to be served up un-diluted Marx, Lefevbre, Offe etc in such an un-abashed manner, as if nothing had happened - wonder if they still do it?

Once I expressed in a paper a somewhat liberalist view on a certain aspect of social policy and was told very harshly in front of the whole room "If this is your opinion, you do not belong on this course!". My view was not extreme in any way by European standards. I was also told off for being in favour of common EU social policies for similar reasons.

The angry comment sure stuck in my head and I really felt pretty bad since it came from the most respected lecturer. It made me wonder about how much politics you are actually taught at uni but also feel pretty bad about my supposed elitist or bourgeouis views and questioned them a bit. Hard to believe, since I am left of centre! But I changed my major soon after.

BUT -- do not forget what is taught in Economics or MBA programmes --- Capitalism in its' worst incarnation. I don't think that Marxist or Socialist views would be appreicated in most such classes and the student would probably be given a very hard time indeed. So it goes both ways.

Oh, I should add that unlike Dixon I did not pay a penny for my excellent university degree... Aaahhh Socialism! :-) If they want to throw in a bit of "propaganda" I guess it's fair game

Edited by cordelia0507 on 16 June 2009 at 7:56pm

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Russianbear
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 Message 21 of 31
16 June 2009 at 4:34pm | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
Anekantavada wrote:
[quote=Dixon]Why do engineering students need to be indoctrinated with socialist propaganda in history class when they're paying to learn their trade?


Lol, I wouldn't call it "propaganda" but this happened to me actually, at university in Sweden. Most of the lecturers in Pol Science, Sociology and Social work were hard-core Marxists or Socialists. A lot of the first-year reading material was flaming red. I had not expected it to that degree.

This was in the mid-90s when USSR had dis-integrated and Eastern Europe had largely dropped Socialism, so it was surprising to be served up un-diluted Marx, Lefevbre, Offe etc in such an un-abashed manner, as if nothing had happened - wonder if they still do it?


Well, a case can be made that while USSR and Eastern European countries paid lip service to Marx, they were actually quite unmarxist in practice. In that sense, the success or failure of "socialism" in USSR is irrelevant for the evaluation of Marxism as an economic/political theory.

Edited by Russianbear on 16 June 2009 at 8:08pm

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cordelia0507
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 Message 22 of 31
16 June 2009 at 7:01pm | IP Logged 
Very good and relevant observation... !
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Kugel
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 Message 23 of 31
16 June 2009 at 8:26pm | IP Logged 
Am I correct that Sovietology is hardly something taught to students seeking Humanities/Social Science credits? Same thing goes with Marx. I don't think Philosophy 101 is going to cover Hegel, Feurbach, Heine, Schapper, or Louis Blanc.



Edited by Kugel on 16 June 2009 at 8:27pm

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cordelia0507
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 Message 24 of 31
16 June 2009 at 9:46pm | IP Logged 
Never in my life heard of this subject! It sounds like a "curriculum filler" or a "hobby degree" if you ask me!

Whatever is in that course would probably normally be part of Russian History, 20th Century History, Political Science, Sociology or Anthropology.

And what practical use would this be to somebody do who took it as a major?

Additionally, at least 1/6th of the world is filled with "Sovietologists" who know their stuff better than anybody possibly could after attending this class or even getting a degree in it...




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