Sunday, June 25, 2006


Beyond Reproach

I've written previously about my difficulties with the gatekeepers of academia in my pursuit of doctoral work and faculty positions. In these earlier posts, I mostly focused on the apparent non-compliance factor in my rejections: having considerable experience, recognition, and acclaimed publications to my credit actually worked against me.

What I overlooked, though, was the age barrier. I'm only 53.

But in a recent conversation with another highly creative intellectual--who just happens to have been rejected at the same institution where I did my graduate studies--I discovered that over 50 is indeed considered a liability there, not because of diminished energy or brilliance, but because it conflicts with the college's marketing brand of being young and hip.

I had, by the way, noticed the large influx of young faces on the faculty staff over the last few years, but I guess I mistakenly took that to mean they were adjuncts being groomed by core faculty. The fact they are also more compliant is undoubtedly another plus in the eyes of exploitive administrators, but the message writ large by this discriminatory policy is that to the institution, education and learning are secondary to commerce and control. If they can provide less and charge more, then that's what they will do.

Being sold a bill of goods, of course, is nothing new in the US socioeconomy--academia included--but the devaluation of experiential learning, mentoring, and indeed the judgment acquired over time, is a death sentence on the future of American culture. The fact that this trend is actively supported by private schools that promote themselves as alternative, progressive, even revolutionary, is beyond reproach.


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