Re: industry finger up the academic wazoo -Reply

Stephanie Wilson (swilson@CHEMONICS.COM)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 09:31:26 -0400

>>> Ronald Kephart <> 10/16/96 02:23pm >>>

It also grates that the business/capitalist metaphor is increasingly applied to
areas where it is inappropriate, namely the diffusion and creation of knowledge.
Students are "customers" and "the customer is always right." Which means that
if I try to teach them something (say, human evolution or the linguistic status
of Black English) and what I say goes against their "opinion" I'm supposed to
accomodate to them or else they'll get me on those course evaluations. And,
"productivity" means how many students have you attracted to your class. Seems
to me that if the business metaphor really applies, and students are really
customers, then we should be able to hand out envelopes the first day of class
and tell them "OK, put whatever you can afford into the envelope; the top ten
contributions will get an A, etc." But, the business metaphor is wrong, because
the sharing of knowledge does not diminish the quality of the knowledge.

I have to disagree here, Ron, albeit with the bias of a graduate student in an applied program.
School is just too expensive these days for students to NOT be treated as customers. For many
graduate students, we're paying for this ourselves and working full time at the same time. Ma
and Pa are broke from undergraduate tuition; I have debts up the very personal "wazoo"; and
schools are not handing out full tuition scholarships or even teaching assistantships to help defray
the cost (I was actually offered half an assistantship-- not that the hours were any less, just the
reimbursement). It cost too much for me to sit in classes that don't teach me anything (although
I still have too since they are required courses). I've had and still have plenty of teachers who
don't have their shit together, industrial or otherwise, that I'm paying $30-$50 per lecture for!

I believe my course evaluations are fair and just. I don't base them on whether I did well in the
class (I've learned quite a lot in classes that I only got Bs in), but on whether the teacher does
his/her job teaching me new information or new ways of looking at the information. If this
doesn't happen, then I'm only paying for a piece of paper and a check-mark on my resume for X

Stephanie Wilson

P.S. For Wade: My computer skills and my library skills are the only reasons I've gotten the jobs
I've had since college. Because of this, I have a special section on my resume below "education
experience" for "computer experience." It includes computer programs I am familiar with (Mac
and PC) for wordprocessing, graphics, and spreadsheets, plus online databases that I've used or
been trained in. I knew that was why I was hired for my current job as a publications assistant,
but I had it reinforced last week when I was talking to someone in another department who had
been my competition for the job. She said the reason I got the job over her was specifically
because I knew graphics programs and Macintosh and she didn't. A bit humbling over all to
know that the difference between getting a job or not is knowing how to move a mouse around.