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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

More on Berman

Making the doctorate shorter is fine, but the real solution is to offer fewer doctorates to adjust supply to demand. If there are not enough jobs for PhDs in English or German, having a shorter time-to-degree isn't going to do anything at all to address this problem. (There are too many attorneys, with a 3-year degree. Making attorneys study two years instead will do nothing to resolve this problem.) I am in a field where there are still jobs for PhDs, and our PhDs at Kansas finish in 5 or 6 years.

Having two kinds of doctorate degrees would just make one the "real" PhD and the other the inferior one. Nobody is fooled by a school administrator who has a DocEd. I don't consider somebody like that equivalent to me. We already have a degree for people who don't want a PhD. It is called an M.A.

If time to degree is the issue, then address THAT issue. You might only accept students who have adequate preparation, for example. Then there would be no time for remedial work in the Doctoral Program. A student wanting a PhD in Spanish whose Spanish is not very good? Too bad. A budding literary critic who hasn't read enough literature. Too bad. Some people like graduate school and want to hang around longer. You could kick them out faster. But

I finished my degree at age 28. I was barely old enough to be a scholar at all. Unless you are a whole lot smarter and more precocious than I was, I don't think it is so bad to be 32 and a recently graduated PhD. If I had finished in four years, at age 25, I would have been way too young to be a college professor.

Let's stop dumbing down our profession. Let's start the stopping by opposing the vile proposals of Berman and his ilk.


profacero said...

My illumination for the day is that in fact most people do not do the PhD to do reserach but to "teach college."

(I have come to this conclusion because it explains why people are so research avoidant and also why we advise them to go anywhere and take any teaching job.)

I think Berman's scheme is to give PhDs to the people who would have MAs and then put them in those teaching intensive assistant professorships.

If you follow out the implications it is ultimately a way of ruining the whole profession, yes.

(I am disgusted with everything because of having to deal daily with so many people with precisly the kind of background he recommends. It is not at all fun.)

Jonathan said...

I'm glad you agree. It confirms my intuition and experience.

Thomas said...

As I point out last year when you went at Berman, it's ironic that at the very same time the MLA is rethinking doctoral education in the humanities as a kind of professional training program, the business schools are rethinking their undergraduate programs on a liberal arts model.