Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quitting Academia: Another One Bites the Dust

Oliver Lee Bateman is quitting his job as an assistant professor of history, and at Vox he writes about his decision. Bateman is a controversial character previously in the news as a champion of grade inflation, whose Rate My Professor page says things like:
Possibly the easiest course you could take at UTA. He seems all business but is in fact slack and easygoing.
He hates busy work and grading / feedback but is a big hand holder and esteem booster so everyone’s a winner with him.
So maybe his heart was never in the educational enterprise, despite what he says about his passion. But anyway he is a smart, interesting person who found himself turned so off by the reality of academic life at the University of Texas at Arlington that he is bailing out. He seems particularly bothered by his students' indifference to what he is teaching, and the first criticism he makes of the system is the same one I always make: too many people go to college. I was amused by this comment on online education:
this system does not offer a viable, sensible alternative for students; it just allows administrations to exploit the crisis in education to make even more money with even less effort or investment.
Reading Bateman's essay and various responses to it put me in a reflective frame of mind. It is no indictment of any system that some people hate it; somebody hates everything. So I suppose the question is whether the steady drumbeat of depressing stories on American academic life are representatives of a crisis, or just the usual froth stirred up by any big endeavor. I don't really know.

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