Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Actually, that doesn't follow

Despite the little blow-up we had a while back when a blogger shit-talked professors, I really enjoy academic whining about their stupid students. Sometimes, they whine about the students with learning disabilities, which endears them a bit less to me, but this really misses the point:
"This kid's been patted on the head and socially promoted for 13 years -- but not by me. How can I pass her? How can she possibly take and pass an essay test?" My chair sympathized, intervened with the father and all went by the board. The kid dropped and I never heard anymore about it.

But, I wondered -- who would do this to someone? She has no hope of making it on her own in the outside world if she can't even put a coherent sentence together.
Um, what makes this prof think that the "real world" works any different than academia? The number of places I've worked where obviously incompetent people were kept around, or promoted, even when it clearly hurt the company is exactly equal to the number of places I've worked, ever.

It's called the Peter Principle. You're a prof -- look it up.


Anonymous said...

She has no hope of making it on her own in the outside world if she can't even put a coherent sentence together.

Um, no. I once had a boss at a Director-level who couldn't write a coherent sentence to save his life. If he ever sent an e-mail you'd have to go to his executive assistant to figure out what he wanted, and usually she was the one who wrote up all of his inter-office communications. He was a terrible communicator - just awful - and he wasn't great at his job either. Didn't really seem to matter much.

At a different job I had a manager who could only compose sentences in a style that can best be called "word salad". Fortunately I didn't have to worry about deciphering his writing for very long because shortly after I got there he was promoted to a Director-level position and got an executive assistant who could actually put thoughts to paper. Another guy who actually wasn't all that good a manager, but who had some good people under him who made him look really good.

School actually is the "real world" in a lot of ways. Promoting people to the level of their incompetence isn't the only example either - there are also those wonderful "group" projects where one person does all the work but the credit gets shared evenly across the group. When I was an undergrad I always thought those were the most frustrating assignments imaginable - and then I started working in the "real world" and found out that they were just tutorials for my later life.


Chet Scoville said...

Rate Your Students is as of now my absolutely favourite thing in the entire universe. I can't believe I never heard of it before.