Academia needs renewal: Why the reactionaries are upset with Doug Ford.

Universities in Ontario are in a tizzy because Doug Ford is going to prevent double-dipping of pensioned professors, but this push is long overdue.

The old guard haven’t brought the shifts and innovations because they are stuck in a status quo vortex. Education has been watered down. They give PhD’s like drugs at a rave because the scam was to get snoots with bad book ideas some promise that getting a doctorate in Humanities or Social Science was some kind of hack to getting a book deal (right, and all those Harvard professors are going to get thrown in the back of the line for the upstart whose long in the tooth. Give me a break). Undergrads scam their ways to degrees through waterworks and academic dishonesty.

We have a monopoly of academic journals. Research is for sale. Fresh perspectives have been shut out because the old guard doesn’t want to admit their theories are flawed. Journalism collapsed in large part because j-schools coasted and didn’t do what they were supposed to do.

This kind of seniority wall is nothing new or just confined to academia. In art during the turn of the century in Europe, the Secessionist Movement that brought us Art Nouveau was a push against that kind of confines: news styles and innovations were kept back and no new visionary was given an opportunity to bring something fresh and bold to the table. Artists such as Gustav Klimt would have never had a chance unless the younger crowd broke those barriers the old guard put up.

Universities in Ontario are in a rut. They are obsessed with some bastardized version of political correctness that’s not actually about diversity at all: they are keeping everything in place with no new vision, meaning it’s just lip service. The patriarchal structure is choking new schools of thought, experiments, perspectives, and innovations. They are clinging on for dear life and there is no renewal, just distractions by trying to ideologically bribe students and give them an easy ride so they don’t see just how antiquated and backwards their education has become.

J-schools are the worst of the offenders. There are no schools of thought, inventions, or innovations — zero.

So why are professors allowed to jaw around there? To pull a pay check they do not deserve while getting a pension to boot?

Universities are supposed to cradles for new ideas. This is a matriarchal institution. It was never supposed to be a patriarchal one, and yet we have people who should have been pushed off the stage long ago. There should come a point where there are places for the old guard to be productive — but in another venue. You have had long enough to incubate whatever ideas you finessed and refined.

Now put those ideas back in the real world to test them.

For those who argue that the old guard may be the only ones who can teach a certain discipline, then that shows the utter failure of universities — if those departments failed to plant seeds for the next generation, then they should be closed. We have done this all the wrong way, and sometimes we need an outsider to wake us up from our slumber for us do to what we needed to do for a long time.

And universities have been asleep for too long…

Memo to the U of T students: Homework is not a cause of suicidal depression. Shame on you, too.

If you read this website regularly, you know that in 2018, I had ovarian cancer at the same time my mother had colorectal cancer. You also know that prior to that, my grandmother Stanka was dropped by Hamilton paramedics and they caused her amputated leg to burst open, broke her teeth, broke her arm in two places that never healed, and gave her a brain bleed.

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Scholarly journal publishers strong arm universities? You don't say, CBC!

I have written about the monopoly problem of academic journals before right here that has been reblogged on Tumblr many times.

But the CBC, always late to get the memo, are just shocked that academic publishers charge exorbitant fees for universities to access their articles — all while people who submit them do it for free.

As if regular media outlets and publishers don’t play the same games.

For example, there are databases with my old articles. I never see a penny if someone bought them.

As a general rule, content providers are not respected, even though without them, there would be nothing to sell.

The problem is structural. For example, in order for me to provide good, quality content, I have to research, interview, and write, meaning that my focus, time, and resources cannot be spent on doing other things, from promotion to lobbying and negotiating.

In academia, it is no different.

We haven’t figured out how to create a system that is not rigged against content providers, but it is time we do…

Memo to the University of Berkeley: Let's stop trying to rig things to socially engineering façades.

The Drudge Report suffers no Leftist fools, and has a link to a Campus Reform knee-slapper that advocates rigging the academic board by doing away with student evaluations because white male professors get higher ratings than female or minority counterparts.

Oh, please.

No, I do believe they do get higher evaluations, and for good reason: white men have a longer history of teaching; so it should be no surprise that this demographic have it mastered.

So the goal now is to set those ratings as the Gold Standard, and work toward other demographics reaching those levels.

Otherwise, you are going to screw over students with your social engineering with bad habits.

I have been teaching for almost twenty years, and my student evaluations were always way above the provincial average.

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That is a tiny portion of the comments I have received over the years. I have always excelled even though I am a female of Eastern European heritage. Why should I be penalized by removing an important component of determining how good is a professor just because the under-performers don’t like their own results?

And before anyone prone to sophistry and temper tantrums goes on about students having prejudices, my students didn’t exactly take to me the first couple of weeks. I am not some appeasing servant. I am fiery, eccentric, hard to read, demanding, unpredictable, lippy, and also suffer no fools.

Yet my students learned, warmed up to me, and we both came out better people than we were at the start of the course.

I am learning a lot through Harvard’s course for teaching professionals, and every week excites me, and I cannot wait to learn (I am working on this week’s assignments as we speak) because I care about being the very best teacher Alexandra Kitty can possibly be.

That is the reason my evaluation scores were in the supper nineties every semester I taught.

I am the shepherd of a flock. My divine duty is to guide this flock from the side of ignorance to the side of mastery. I know every student by name, advocate for them, cheer them when they triumph, and work with them when they begin to flounder.

I am there for them when they are having an academic meltdown. When promotions meetings take place, I fight for every one.

That’s my job, and I am grateful to do so.

And my dedication is reflected in those evaluations.

So if your evaluations suck, maybe you should do what you expect of your students: hunker down, get feedback, modify your strategies, take courses to improve your technique, and go back in the battlefield again.

I am taking a very pricey course that is very involved, and my evaluations are untouchable.

Yet I still do it, and happily so. I keep myself up to code.

And by the international make-up of the other educators taking the course, these are also people who have taken time out of their schedule to do it.

So we shouldn’t get rid of a valuable tool just because we don’t like the reading.

We have identified a disparity, and the riddle to solve is how do we work toward making those kind of disparities vanish.

The hiding-under-the-bed technique isn’t going to help: it will merely alienate students, and that’s not the point of academia.

It is to engage and connect, and that means facing inconvenient truths to create a more thriving reality…

We talk about a media monopoly, but what about a scholarly journal monopoly?

When I wrote an academic article for the scholarly journal Critical Review, it was an independent journal with an excellent reputation for being daring, and the reason I sought it out. It was young, brash, exciting, and I had direct dealings with the editor.

When my article was published, it was quoted and used in various scholarly books and journal articles.

Critical Review is no longer an independent publication. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any these days. Most are owned by a handful of owners. The American Psychological Association, owns most of the major psych journals, which is not surprising on the one hand, but very troubling on another.

This is the way of stifling debate and homogenizing academic thought, and that's not what academia is supposed to do. Diversity of voices in quality publications is lost -- and no new styles and structures of thought are permitted.

It is not as if there is a shortage of publications or open source venues. The problem is we aren't seeing certain innovations in intellectual thought as we go through the motions and write-by-numbers. Experiments don't break away from tradition. Theories don't break away from it, either.

They have become stagnate, and filled with design flaws and sophistry.

I still read academic articles, but the notion of iconic or classic experimentation is no longer there. They seem to lack a certain gravitas, and now try to pass off ideological opinion as fact.

It is as if the Fox Effect is creeping over to the academic sphere where the allure of filler opinion is winning over the search for facts.

And that is something to be aware of, and start challenging...