Does your university think that “Jobs are for the little people”?

Tall, Dark, and Mysterious is a Math. professor somewhere in Canada, possibly in British Columbia. She graduated from a big school and now teaches at a smaller (lesser?) school.

Well, is it a lesser school? That’s where her tale becomes interesting. Myself, I attended UofT. I don’t know if the rule is true, probably not, but it seem that the larger the school, the more it suffers from the jobs-are-for-little-people syndrome as documented in a post by Tall, Dark, and Mysterious. Here is an insightful quote:

University isn’t job training, because universities are adamant about university not being job training. And it’s not because they’re too busy enriching students’ lives and fostering a love of learning. Underneath all of the cheap idealism – trumpeted by gainfully employed people, many of whom haven’t learned how to play a musical insturment, how to speak a foreign language, or how to play a new sport because none of those things are related to their jobs and because they’re too old to be doing that sort of thing – about learning for the sake of learning is a willful inability to confront the fact that students are not at universities to learn for the sake of learning.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

6 thoughts on “Does your university think that “Jobs are for the little people”?”

  1. Yup, teaching at a “lesser” school in BC. Class size is capped at 34, the university employs students in skilled work (there’s a student-run automotive shop on campus, and the students in the culinary arts program run the caf), and instructors are chosen for their teaching skills, not just for their research…

    …for now, anyway. My school’s growing, and beginning to offer more degree programs. So, I’m temping, and will be unemployed at the end of the term. They’llk be replacing me with someone with a Ph.D. – I have only a Master’s. I have had nearly a decade of experience teaching math at a variety of levels – from learning disabled adults to gifted kids – and here, I’m not teaching any math that I didn’t learn in a high school classroom. By all accounts, I’m good at what I do, but it’s in my school’s best interest – somehow – to pay someone with a Ph.D., and possibly less teaching skill/experience than I have, a lot more money than I’m making to teach high school math. It’s no coincidence that this is what it takes for a university to have a good reputation. Students? What students?

  2. The idea that the university is not a place for job training is a relatively new one. Although originally scholars’ guilds, universities were the path first to teaching, but eventually to the first professions: medecine, law, clergy. Other professions soon followed (engineering, etc, etc). In fact, a university education is the foundation of most professions in one way or another. Universities might not provide much in the way of vocational training, and what professional education they do provide tends to be baised towards the theoretical aspects of the practice. So while the university doesn’t provide “job training”, they are a first and critical step in a path to a professional career. (I agree that not everyone in academia sees things this way, and that students suffer as a result.)

  3. Well, Universities seem to regard themselves far too highly in my opinion – I can spell, and I haven’t been to University – Ed can’t spell and he has!

  4. My apologies for not taking more care in crafting my comment. My stream-of-consciousness typing (i.e. all my blogging) tends to be that way. Deficiencies in my spelling should be blamed on my primary education, not on university. There are no courses on spelling at university, at least not in the program I attended.

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