Thursday, September 07, 2006

The life academic / I know what you didn't do last summer

Over at the NY Times, a lovely op-ed piece by Tom Lutz talking about the joys of the academic life. Lutz writes:

Why, then, does there continue to be a glut of fresh Ph.D.’s? It isn’t the pay scale, which, with a few lucky exceptions, offers the lowest years-of-education-to-income ratio possible. It isn’t really the work itself, either. Yes, teaching and research are rewarding, but we face as much drudgery as in any professional job. Once you’ve read 10,000 freshman essays, you’ve read them all.

But we academics do have something few others possess in this postindustrial world: control over our own time. All the surveys point to this as the most common factor in job satisfaction. The jobs in which decisions are made and the pace set by machines provide the least satisfaction, while those, like mine, that foster at least the illusion of control provide the most.

Yes, exactly.

Afternoon matinees, we meet again. Team meetings, deadlines, adieu forever.

12 comments:

The Soliloquist said...

:-) apt one post-teacher's day...

Anonymous said...

so the wednesday noon movies are still on, I presume?

n!

TerritorialMale said...

I totally agree. In my last job, I had absolutely no control over my time. I even had a fixed time to go to the loo...so I quit. I think I should get that PHD. :-) and get my life back.

Tabula Rasa said...

oh, there will be deadlines. plenty. just wait and see :-(

Raoul said...

Afternoon matinees! You actually wake up that early?

Gauravonomics said...

I have to agree with you. I'm in love with my 9 to 9, six days a week jobs, but really wish i had more time, to read, watch movies and blog about it all.

Interesting poem I came across here:

Do not assume that I am a saint, naive, innocent,
Searching for my childhood,
Living for summers off,
Home by 2:15,

scout said...

exactly why my friends and I have decided to get our ivy-league PhDs and become professors of political theory, public policy or some such subject in charming liberal arts colleges somewhere in New England. Ah, the life of a social science professor. :D

Falstaff said...

Soliloquist: Ah, yes - I'd forgotten about that.

n!: But of course.

territorialmale: Hmm...have mental flashback to manager who sulked for days because I took a five minute break to have a snack at the end of a long working Saturday. Yes, PhD is the way to go.

tr: I don't know. I mean, sure there'll be deadlines, but I mean compared to my old job where every week had its own deadlines and you got evaluated every six months on a strictly up or out basis? It can't get that bad surely.

raoul: Oh, yes. I'm a raving insomniac remember. To be asleep for an afternoon matinee, I'd have to go to sleep at 11 am.

gaurav: Yes. The good thing about academia is that all this freedom isn't coming at the cost of excitement / challenge either. I love my work, when I get around to doing some.

And yes, I saw that poem. I have to say I was underwhelmed - it was too long and too overblown. If it had been one-third its length it might actually have been a good poem.

scout: Wrong. Business PhD is the way to go. The work is about the same and the pay is significantly better.

Tabula Rasa said...

falstaff:
i know what you're talking about - it's a different sort of bad. an internal sort that can sometimes exert a pretty heavy cost itself. but the upsides are much much greater, of course. (as, coincidentally, i posted today.)

and while i totally agree on the business phd, i should also say that the openings are fewer, and we don't get to do the corduroy-coated intellectual thing...

Falstaff said...

tr: Ah, yes, that glorious moment when your data miraculously supports your hypothesis. That is an amazing feeling. Congratulations.

And yes, things can get stressful, I guess it's just that it's a slow creep rather than a sharp catastrophe - more like a glacier than a cascading rapid. And by the same token, once you're in trouble, you're unlikely to be able to fix things with a few weeks of extra hard work.

Not sure about not being able to do the corduroy-coated intellectual thing though - I can think of at least a couple of professors in my department who do manage that.

Tabula Rasa said...

thanks :-)

i agree, there's a couple of the corduroys running around, but the norm is more down the brooks brothers line. whatever floats one's boat, anyway.

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