We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It doesn't really work better for students because students are paying for professors--that is, the high-priced experts in the field--but what they're getting, instead, is whomever the department could find to teach the class. The person may have a PhD or may not. The instructor may be a good teacher, but there's no guarantee of that. The instructor may be inflating her grades just to insure high student evaluations for the benefit of future employment. The instructor may be teaching the classes with the hope of eventually landing something better and more permanent in the future, or he may have given up on the academic job market and have no idea what else to do or how else to apply his skills to find other kinds of work.
True enough, but the reason given for tenure in the first place was to protect "academic freedom." And while "academic freedom" is subject to many abuses, one of the few benefits is that, at least in theory, someone who sets high standards for his or her students can do so with less risk of reprisals from delicate snowflakes who were certain they should have gotten an A in the class. Non-tenure-track faculty rarely have that luxury, and as a result, education can suffer and be turned more into a means of entertainment than one of learning.
That is an excellent point. From what I have read, teacher evaluations are very big factors in retention decisions for professors not on the tenure track. That makes sense: their main function is to teach. Easy grades= high teacher ratings. Do the math.
I can think of the evaluations of one professor where the evaluations improved teaching. A tenured engineering professor,who wrote the textbook we used in his course, did not do a good teaching job in our junior level course. He assumed too much knowledge on our parts- didn't break problems down the way the other professors did.
One week he was gone for a professional meeting. Another prof took over the class that week. When he returned the next week, he gave the standard weekly quiz. "You all did very well on the quiz for last week's material," he told us- 10-20 points better than we usually did. There was a reason for that- he didn't teach us that week.
He knew the material. If you could come to his office with very specific questions on a given problem, he did an excellent job of explaining. The overview in his lectures wasn't good.
He got uniformly bad evaluations. I was told that the next year, he did a lot better job of explaining and seeking feedback.
You just exactly described the undergraduate educational experience at Harvard. All those fancy professors want nothing to do with the undergrads - teaching undergrads isn't what got them tenure at Harvard, and they have no time for that. By far the bulk of the undergraduate teaching at Harvard is done by grad students with, at most, master's degrees.
I always thought that the undergrads at Harvard were getting RIPPED OFF and were either too clueless or dazzled to realize it. These kids had stars in their eyes...but not in their classrooms.
Very true about Harvard. Of course, what one is paying for at Harvard is both the prestige of the name and, even more valuable, the access to the many networking opportunities that affiliation with the university provides. At Harvard, Yale, and such places that may be worth it (provided one can function in the PC environment) plus the universities are so selective that you are bound to learn a lot from your classmates and the graduate students at those places aren't intellectual slouches, either.
If you have the sort of high-schooler that is pondering a field where graduate degrees are required, it makes much more sense to go to an undergraduate-only college for the bachelors. Any star in that small pond will have no trouble being accepted to ivy for masters or PhD -- and if they aren't paying you to come do graduate study (assistantchips, teaching etc), then they don't really have high hopes for your career success.
A cousin of mine had a Nobel Prize winning prof at Berkeley- Calvin. Not a good teacher, my cousin told me. This was a graduate course which would have been a lot more up to the level of a Nobel Prize winner than an undergrad course.