25th October

requirement to get jobs, secure tenure and establish a reputation. Academic over-production means that reputations are made in fleeting assessments, not judged through careful erudition but based on speed reading or second-hand judgements - "I have a friend who read that book and they hated it!" Certain judgements made with minimal knowledge.

Let me sum up: at least three paradoxes could be heard in the voices of Simbuerger's university teachers. Firstly, while teaching is valued as a connection to what Michael Burawoy refers to as our first public (ie, students), academic success necessitates keeping that contact to a minimum. Secondly, our most dearly held education values - such as the importance of 'living in books' and exploring the difficult ideas - are proving harder to sustain in the face of the priorities that take time away from learning and teaching. Thirdly, the injunction to write more academically leads to less academic writing actually being read. Are these open secrets? If they are then no wonder that the dominant atmosphere in universities is timidity and quietism. Perhaps we can't quite believe, or accept, what we have become. Teaching remains an antidote in my view because it offers those precious heavy silences where we are thinking together and when everyone is holding their breath.


"To learn is to be young, however old."

next entry >>>>



5 November