Ranting (May 2012)

this was one of those angry Facebook posts I was glad to have written in retrospect.  Its target is not academics themselves, but government policy, and the effect that has on university structures and how we are all pressured into thinking.

Students are not pots of money, they are human beings who want to be educated, and who need to be taken seriously as people.Teaching is not an awkward inconvenience that we need to countenance in order to fund our research activities.

Undergraduates are students of the discipline which we are all still learning. Every one of us in academia has built what we are able to do on a foundation of un…dergraduate study. We would not have got anywhere without communities of academics who recognised us as beings who were capable of developing skills and ideas, and addressed as us intelligent people who were capable of thinking at a higher level than we were at the time.

We can’t afford to start regarding students’ education as a means to further our individual personal ends, and nor can senior academic staff wave a magic wand such that junior staff will fill the teaching gap with no opportunity to develop research – what will happen to the subject a decade down the line?

Anyone who seriously cares about the future of their academic discipline, rather than scoring personal points for their own research, needs to resist a system bent on increasing individuation and objectification of people. Even as an individual, recognising the debt that you owe to the work of people who have come before you involves recognising and developing the thought of the people who will come after you.

These seem to be obvious things to say. It should not even be necessary to say them. Right at the moment, to say them feels subversive.