Scholarship

Teaching, Tenure, and Academic Freedom

In The New York Times a couple of days ago, Stanley Fish offered an article with the title "Vocationalism, Academic Freedom and Tenure."  He is responding to a book, The Faculty Lounges: and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For  by Naomi Schaefer Riley.  He writes:

What Riley shows is that vocation-oriented teaching, teaching beholden to corporations and politically inflected teaching do not square with the picture of academic labor assumed by the institutions of tenure and academic freedom.

I agree with Fish in part when, in response to Riley's point, he writes:

I say, and have been saying for years, that colleges and universities should stop moving in those directions — toward relevance, bottom-line contributions and social justice — and go back to a future in which academic inquiry is its own justification.

But I do think he views things to narrowly.  Academic inquiry is not simply its own justification, but is a necessary basis for higher-level teaching, which itself is not the "thing" his article (and, I assume, Riley's book) imagine it to be, but is itself a dynamic requiring academic freedom every bit as much as research does.

Fellow ePluribi, I need your help

Please read: The following request is from Timroff, a member of the ePluribus Media community. Originally posted 2009-06-15 10:00:07 -0400; I've FP'd it and adjusted some of the WYSIWYG formatting. Thank you. -- GH

I was going to write that I don't ask for a lot, but I realized that's not exactly true. In the last year I've asked you to donate to Feeding America and do something to help out your local food program or homeless shelter. I asked you to go and entertain voters waiting in long lines on Election Day. I asked you to help spread information coming out of Texas as Hurricane Ike rolled through Galveston and Houston, And I asked you to donate your time and money to Netroots For the Troops at Netroots Nation 2008 in Austin

Now I have another request.

Today is the deadline for applicants for Democracy For America's Netroots Nations 2009 Scholarships. Winners will be announced Friday, but I need your help now.

As many of you know, I was laid off last April, and am now working to build a large greenhouse in my hometown to grow low-cost vegetables for low-income families. Needless to say, the cost of attending Netroots Nation '09 in Pittsburgh is well above my means. But if I can't make it to NN'09, then I can't help coordinate the building of 300 Care Packages with Netroots For The Troops. I can't help lead a Saturday Night Hootenanny and Open Mic Extravaganzapalooza. I won't be able to participate in Pastor Dan's Sunday Morning Service, and I won't be able to participate in discussions about food policy and agriculture. But, if I were to get a scholarship, I could make all these things happen.

And I promise I'll post pictures and play requests at the Hootenanny.