Monday, June 28, 2004

Today in the Chronicle of Higher Education there was a really interesting yet scary article called Is Graduate School a Cult? Eerie to say the least. Some interesting quotes include:

"...that graduate school in the humanities indoctrinates its students into believing that they are failures if they do not remain inside the ivory tower, even if there are no suitable academic jobs for them."

"For all its claims to the contrary, graduate education does not seem to enhance the mental freedom of many students, some of whom are psychologically damaged by the experience." Yes, sounds familiar.

"Nevertheless, understanding the varied social experiences of graduate school (student culture as well as formal instruction), as a kind of cult helps to explain why so many people cannot be dissuaded from staying in school -- or working, year after year, as underpaid adjuncts -- when it is manifestly against their interests to do so, when they sincerely want to get out the academy but feel impeded by irrational fears."

But wait, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. What about a career in counselling?

"Let's say a mother finds an application to Duke University's Ph.D. program in English under her daughter's mattress. Obviously the mother is devastated. If she does nothing, in a year her daughter will be dressed in black and sneering in obscure jargon at the Thanksgiving turkey and Aunt Sally's cranberry Jell-O mold. Where can a concerned parent turn for help?"

Or you could make a documentary film -

"It could be a nerdy version of Scared Straight: "You fancy-ass punks think you're so smart? You think you know something about hegemony? I got a Ph.D., 50 grand in student loans, and I clocked 20 years as an adjunct. Now I'm here to tell the truth to suckers like you.""

Food for thought.


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