College section blogger, medievalist ~ fencer Ken Mondschein (PhD Fordham + studies at BU, SUNY Buffalo, Harvard) writes...
Most every commentator on academe has mentioned the sorry state of higher education: A decades-long oversupply of Ph.Ds, an undersupply of jobs, and the use of cheap adjunct labor for everything from teaching intro writing classes to supervising theses to cleaning the president's office. Despite the fact that tenure-track jobs are rarer than hen's teeth, that venerated institution has come under attack, as well. Critics charge that tenure gives professors license to be unproductive layabouts or maniac wingnuts, but there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it unless said tenure-possessor burns down the administration building or runs naked through freshman orientation.
But I am not here to kvetch: I am here to offer solutions. It seems to me that all of these symptoms of current malaise of higher education could be solved in one sweeping stroke, were we only to reintroduce dueling to the academy.
I speak here not of the sissy-boy mensurs "fought" by German frat boys in case some time-traveling frauleins from the days of the Kaiser should turn up to swoon over their scars, but of lethal combats fought on the quad with sword, sabre, or pistol. These rencontres need not be lethal, but the possibility of death or at least serious injury should be present. By this system, we can restore the glory days of higher education.
Professor Abraham: And, as we can see, by compensating for the constant of background radiation… do you bite your thumb at me, sir?Most relevantly, the baby boomers now grown fat and complacent in their tenured posts would be forced to retire or make way for new blood with nimbler feet and steadier hands. Rather than all the plum positions going to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton alums, we would have a more meritocratic system where job searches would seek candidates with less pedigree, but better-educated trigger fingers. The flood of graduates causing the oversupply of labor that has us awash in adjuncts would be dammed, as well: Who wants to go into a field in which doing one's job could find one stretched out on a cold slab? Such thrill-seekers would be better and more productively employed in the Marines, or perhaps teaching in an inner-city high school.
Professor Samson: No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I do bite my thumb.
Professor Abraham: Do you quarrel, sir?
Professor Samson: You forgot to carry the one, you addle-pated Caltech alum. Go MIT!
Professor Abraham: My second shall be calling upon you.
|It's all about money,|
and of course, if you add a K for "kunst" to "money," you get "monkey
Some might likewise make that our code exhibits gender bias, arguing that women would be unable to meet men on equal footing. After all, men are, on average, taller, stronger, and have more reach. We counter that such persons are themselves guilty of outmoded thought. Since the 1960s, the number of women in higher education has grown enormously, based on the simple premise that a woman's labor, mind, and contribution to society is in every way equal to a man's. I say, let this principle of equality be carried over to the dueling ground. (This would also be an excellent means to redress the imbalance of female scientists, as most women in academe drive hard in all areas of their lives, including fitness, while most scientists are pasty, lab-bound, and flabby.)
Finally, we must not forget that our ultimate responsibility is to our students. Surely it can not be to their advantage to have experienced professors continually being perforated? However, considering the matter carefully, it would seem that the introduction of dueling could only cause the quality of undergraduate instruction to increase across the board. There is nothing quite like one's imminent demise to focus one's mind. How one would savor anew the pleasures of teaching freshman comp, knowing that, ere the next sunset, one might be in one's grave, never again to discourse upon the gerund! How great the urge to be popular with one's students, so that an ample crowd of mourners would show up—or, at the very least, that they wouldn't be glad that you bought it! And how disciplined our classrooms, the students knowing that their professor is a crack shot or handy with a sabre!
My arguments are clear, and the premise can not be counter-argued: Those who are unable to face their adversaries on the field of honor have no business in the lecture hall.
A Modest Proposal for the Reform of Academe