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October 3, 2007

A reader recently wondered if I was still in the classroom (virtual or not). As I was pondering whether I should respond or not, I read Dean Dad’s polemic on why CC’s should hire PhD’s.

His basic argument is that PhD’s are better equipped at providing the example education for their students, it helps calm the ‘rents, and “on a pragmatic level, someone who already has a doctorate won’t spend the next several years working on it.”

Not one of DD’s better posts. While it may be true, his reasoning certainly doesn’t make it right, nor does it make for the best arguments for his position. After all, saying that we should continue the “surge” because it is working to reduce sectarian attacks doesn’t mean that the initial invasion was right.

Of course, invasion of the ABD’s is not the same as Iraq, but the logic is the same.

What about a different criteria. I mean, one finds what one is looking for.

Instead of brand appeal (encouraging the ‘rents), what about ranking success in other metrics? What about the ability to inspire critical thought? What about the ability to lead by an example other than following an established path (research into a degree is a well-staked path)?

Of course, I have talked about these sort of metrics before….just search for “metrics” and “teaching.”

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4 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink
    October 11, 2007 8:45 pm

    Could you tell us what an ABD is?

  2. Anonymous permalink
    October 11, 2007 9:43 pm

    By doing a Ph.D., you have hopefully found out how science works. Science is a messy process; it’s not tidy textbook answers. Oh, eventually it turns into tidy textbook answers, but only after the experiments have all been replicated and the shouting has died down.

    If you think science is textbook answers, you’ll be horribly confused by things like global warming. The answers change; the personalities come out; the focus of the field zig-zags around. But, that’s basically normal. All science does that for a while, just not usually so publically.

    So, it helps to have seen the process so you can teach it to your students. They are the ones that’ll make the political decisions based on science, so it’s important that they understand it.

    There are other reasons, too. Your Ph.D. has learned by doing, rather than learning from textbooks. Textbooks are wrong to a degree and simplified to a degree. It’s good to have a closer connection to reality, with fewer layers of paper. Lawyers dislike second-hand evidence for very good reasons.

    Now, of course, a Ph.D. doesn’t help you teach, so it’s not a done deal. A Ph.D. who isn’t a natural teacher may be a worse choice than a M.S. who is a good teacher.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    October 13, 2007 4:37 pm

    To Anonymous: ABD is jargon for “All But Dissertation,” indicating that all coursework, candidacy exams, comprehensive exams, language exams, and any other requirements for the Ph.D. have been completed–maybe even the dissertation proposal.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    October 30, 2007 9:17 pm

    Dude,

    You are burnt out! No posts for 28 days? Where are you? What’s happened? Where is your life going?

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