Sunday, September 26, 2010

Welcome to the corporate academy, Times readers

Today's New York Times contains an Op-Ed entitled "Ditch Your Laptop, Dump Your Boyfriend." Its subtitle: "Advice for freshmen from the people who actually grade their papers and lead their class discussions."

Who are the six contributors who actually do such things?

Grad students, every one of them.


moria said...


(She says, or tries to say, from under her pile of grading, lesson-planning, and student e-mails.

Still, if her students learn a few of those things [and ignore a few of those things], her life may improve somewhat, and for that she will be grateful.)

dance said...

Yeah, that was a bit bizarre the way they didn't even address what they were doing, just took it for granted (although it's not actually true of all colleges, of course--in particular for the Times audience).

Plus, a lot of the advice seemed to be from the "had I but known" perspective, not from the "how to succeed at grading and discussion" perspective...

Flavia said...


I'm teaching first-semester freshmen myself this semester (and just spent the weekend grading my own set of frosh essays, Moria!), so the matter-of-fact assertion that grad students are the ones who teach them did strike me as rather hilarious, even if broadly true (we don't have grad instructors at my institution, but most 100-level classes ARE taught by non-ladder faculty).

Weirder, though, is how opaque the reason for choosing grad students to give this kind of advice was. Yes, grad students and adjuncts do teach more freshman-level classes, at most institutions, than ladder faculty--and grad students also tend to be much closer in age to their freshmen, and are probably thinking a lot harder about what it means to be a student, than faculty are.

So those are good reasons to call upon grad student expertise. But if those were the reasons, they could have been made more explicit.