AceCrAAckers
AceCrAAckers
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December 18th, 2012 at 2:11:09 PM permalink
Quote: teliot

What's your point? Do you honestly believe that tenure is the reason that Einstein never achieved his original peak again?



The point is one does not need tenure to do great research. Tenure does not produce better scientist is my point. In some ways it may harm them.
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Zcore13
Zcore13
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December 18th, 2012 at 2:15:17 PM permalink
Tenure is one of the best joke subjects I've ever heard...

Back when Ricky Henderson was playing baseball, he loved to talk about himself and he loved to talk about himself in the 3rd person. He had just signed with the Padres. Previously when he had played for the Blue Jays, Yankees and A's (the 2nd time) he would always sit in the front of the Bus on the way to Spring Training games. When he got onto the bus with the Padres someone was sitting in his seat. Rickey asked another player on the team that he knew why someone was sitting in "his" seat. The person answered "because he has tenure". Rickey replied back "Ten Year? Rickey's got 17 year!"

ZCore13
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teliot
teliot
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December 18th, 2012 at 2:22:26 PM permalink
Quote: AceCrAAckers

The point is one does not need tenure to do great research. Tenure does not produce better scientist is my point. In some ways it may harm them.

Tenure allows a great researcher to do research. Of course it makes them better. It made Einstein better. The problem is that the theorems he proved before his academic life were already at the mountain top, what was he supposed to do next?

What's true is that those who are not in academia don't understand it very well. They don't know what's good or bad about tenure or why. They don't understand the struggles of departments, colleges and universities to come to grips with the problems of tenure. They don't know the frustration inside departments when faculty abuse positions that could go to bright young minds. They don't understand how tenure affects moral. They don't know the pressures on faculty -- that one's whole life's work comes down to the whim of a vote of the faculty on some lazy Tuesday afternoon.

Imagine. You have 4 years of undergraduate work, 4-6 years of graduate work to get a Ph.D., 6 years of teaching, research, conferences and trying your hardest to publish. That 14+ years of your life devoted to one single thing. To do research in your chosen area, to do what you love. Then it comes down to a vote of some scum-sucking politics between factions who have immoral self-interests and don't really care what happens to you if you don't get tenure. And once you don't get tenure, it's all over. You will never work in academia again (unless you consider a community college academia).

This is what happened to one of my peers and it is why I resigned from Ohio University. This man had a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, was an undergraduate at Harvard at age 14, and was one of the finest researchers I have ever met. But because he was my friend and I was at political odds with most of the department, this fine man was denied tenure at "lofty" Ohio University. It was an abomination. It was all that is ugly about tenure.

Meanwhile at UCSB, I have as many great stories about how tenure has driven first-rate research. You need only go to the department of Computer Science and start looking through the resumes of its faculty to understand that the Internet you are using today would not exist but for those people.

It's not easy. That's what's true. Drawing a line from Einstein to modern day academia is a huge simplification.
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Wizard
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Wizard
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December 18th, 2012 at 2:35:28 PM permalink
Let me preface my opinion that I concede that Eliot is a lot closer to this topic than I am, so I am nowhere near equal to his credentials to discuss the topic. My experience at teaching at the university level is the gaming math class twice as an adjuncct professor at UNLV.

That said, I know I had a lot of tenured dead wood professors at UCSB. In general, I think the young energetic, yet untenured, teachers were better. Regarding reserach, I know the UCSB library has about 5000 square feet devoted to obscure academic journals that nobody seems to read. Seriously, you never see anybody in that part of the library. Univsersites should be more about teaching and less about publishing.

Finally, I more or less oppose the notion of lifetime guaranteed employment in any field, except maybe judges. I believe in the free market, and if somebody isn't doing his/her job effecctively, then whoever is paying the salary should have the option to replace him/her with somebody who can. Eliot's example of somebody doing research showing that the university itself isn't teaching well seems like a ton of cure for an ounce of a problem.
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debitncredit
debitncredit
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December 18th, 2012 at 2:39:59 PM permalink
Quote: teliot


What's true is that those who are not in academia don't understand it very well.



Eliot, I agree with everything you've said. But I think what most people don't understand is not only the tenure system, but how much of a job of a professor in higher education is research. As an undergraduate and master's student, I thought all professors do is teaching three classes a semester and take the summer off. I think most people do not understand, which is understandable, that research is what drives the reputation of departments, schools, and universities.
iluvdisco33
iluvdisco33
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December 18th, 2012 at 2:41:37 PM permalink
These days, tenure is as cancerous to our schools as many of our unions are to industry. It's time has come, and now it's time to go. It's so broken down that there's little need to seek any other reasons why our education system ranks so low among other civilized nations.
debitncredit
debitncredit
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December 18th, 2012 at 2:45:35 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

I believe in the free market....



In a practical stand point, I think the tenure system does not go away, precisely because it IS a part of the free market. There are states that are trying to get rid of tenure at public universities, but it doesn't and won't happen because good young researchers/teachers will not work at a university that doesn't reward good teaching/research with tenure.
teliot
teliot
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December 18th, 2012 at 2:48:27 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard


That said, I know I had a lot of tenured dead wood professors at UCSB. In general, I think the young energetic, yet untenured, teachers were better. Regarding reserach, I know the UCSB library has about 5000 square feet devoted to obscure academic journals that nobody seems to read. Seriously, you never see anybody in that part of the library. Univsersites should be more about teaching and less about publishing.

Finally, I more or less oppose the notion of lifetime guaranteed employment in any field, except maybe judges. I believe in the free market, and if somebody isn't doing his/her job effecctively, then whoever is paying the salary should have the option to replace him/her with somebody who can. Eliot's example of somebody doing research showing that the university itself isn't teaching well seems like a ton of cure for an ounce of a problem.

The first way we differ is that I don't think of universities in terms of good teaching. A place like UCSB, with the quality of its faculty, is centered on research.

When I was doing this stuff, the evaluation we used was 40-40-20 (research, teaching, service). But at UCSB, everyone knew it was 90-5-5. Research was the only thing for tenure. If your research was great, you could suck at teaching. But if your teaching was the best in the world, but you didn't publish much, you would get kicked on your butt.

I agree that tenure should be reconsidered at universities primarily devoted to teaching. There is no reason to keep lousy teachers at four-year liberal arts colleges. I had some extraordinary teachers as an undergraduate at Humboldt State University. Because of those teachers, my classmates ended up as graduate students at Berkeley, MIT and other top tier graduate schools (not me, I ended up at University of Arizona). If you want good teachers, go to a college with good teachers.

As for the libraries, I can't imagine you are seriously denigrating the value of journals. I ran the mathematics collection in the library at Ohio University and was responsible for ordering their journals. I knew first hand, from the faculty in the department, what they were reading. The journals were critical to the research of the department.
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debitncredit
debitncredit
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December 18th, 2012 at 2:48:54 PM permalink
Quote: iluvdisco33

These days, tenure is as cancerous to our schools as many of our unions are to industry. It's time has come, and now it's time to go. It's so broken down that there's little need to seek any other reasons why our education system ranks so low among other civilized nations.



I want to point out that tenure system is driven by research. I am absolutely against high school teachers with tenure. In the higher education, however, the brightest minds of the world still flock to U.S. universities as students and professors for education and research. We do not see European high school students immigrating to the U.S. to go to Public School No. 17.
teliot
teliot
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December 18th, 2012 at 2:54:09 PM permalink
Quote: debitncredit

I want to point out that tenure system is driven by research. I am absolutely against high school teachers with tenure.

I agree 100%. To keep someone on, however, because being a H.S. teacher requires a 1-year commitment, it is reasonable to renew contracts on a 3-year basis. The same goes for teaching (non/research) faculty at a university, in my opinion.
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