It’s been one of those weeks in academia.
Earlier in the week the “I quit academia” meme went through my Twitter stream. Perhaps the closest this meme came to me was @marksmithers “On leaving academia” post.
That was about the day when I had to pull the pin on a grant application. Great idea, something we could do and would probably make a difference, but I didn’t have the skills (or the time) to get it over the line.
As it happened, I was reading Asimov’s “Caves of Steel” this week and came across the following quote about the “Medievalists”, a dissaffected part of society
people sometimes mistake their own shortcomings for those of society and want to fix the Cities because they don’t know how to fix themselves
On Tuesday night it was wonder if you could replace “Cities” with “Universities” and capture some of drivers behind the “I quit academia” meme.
And then I attended a presentation today titled “Playing the research game well”. All the standard pragmatic tropes – know your H-Index (mine’s only 16), know the impact factor for journals, only publish in journals with an impact factor greater than 3, meta-analysis get cited more etc.
It is this sort of push for KPIs and objective measures that is being created by the corporatisation of the Australian University sector. The sort of push which makes me skeptical of Mark’s belief
that higher education institutions can and will find their way back to being genuinely positive friendly and enjoyable places to work and study.
If anything these moves are likely to increase the types of experiences Mark reports.
So, I certainly don’t think that the Asimov quote applies. That’s not to say that academics don’t have shortcomings. I have many – the grant application non-submission is indicative of some – but by far the larger looming problem (IMHO) is the changing nature of universities.
That said, it hasn’t been all that bad this week. I did get a phone call from a student in my course. A happy student. Telling stories about how he has been encouraged to experiment with the use of ICTs in his teaching and how he’s found a small group at his work who are collaborating.
Which raises the question, if you’re not going to quit academia (like Leigh commented on Mark’s post, I too am “trapped in wage slavery and servitude”) do you play the game or seek to change it?
Or should we all just take a spoonful?