Meritocracy, My Ass

Just in case there was any confusion on the subject, the academic job market does not reward those who work the hardest, teach well and often, or produce more and better scholarship.  Compared to the advantages of an Ivy League pedigree and its nepotistic connections, things like teaching experience, publications, and awards don’t amount to a pile of beans.  At least that’s the case with many schools — R-1s and small liberal arts colleges alike — that are easily wowed by the names on diplomas and letters of reference.  For those of us without the great good fortune to have been enrolled in courses at places like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, it’s a game of luck and chance, and the hope that at least one member of the search committee will have the guts to read past the eduction section of the CV and not be star-struck when the Good Old Boys start calling in their connections.

Yeah, I lost out on a job search to an Ivy Leaguer, even though I have taught more classes, published more articles, and won more awards.  So I’m pissed.  And I’m going to use it.  I’m going to take my anger and frustration and I’m going to sink it into my work.  I’m going to get the articles out, go to the conferences, get the book published, get the job, and get elected to professional organizations.  And when the time comes on job, conference, and fellowship committees, I will have my vengeance.  So run, you cur.  And tell the other curs I’m coming, and I’m bringing hell with me.

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Reboot

I need a reboot day.  After weeks of balancing precariously on the edge of total disorder in my teaching, research, and writing, I’m just about to fall off the cliff.  I even had to violate my Nature/Nurture Sunday to do some grading that I had put off for weeks. And still I’m not up to the bare minimum of where I need to be.  And that’s a problem, because I am so very, very close to being done with a lot of important things.  Top of the list: finishing and filing my dissertation so I can get hooded this June.  I’ve promised my committee the last round of edits by the middle of March, and that’s going to take some late nights.  When I start to think about that plus teaching plus an article I’m almost done with plus a conference at the end of this month and so on, I feel like I’m just about to lose it.  So I’m calling a time out.  Not a day off from work, but a day to take a step back and remind myself of which work is important and to figure out how to get that done.  The problem, of course, is that every second I take to plan is a second I take away from doing the work itself.  But right now, I need to figure out where I’m going and how to get there.  An important process, I’d argue, for every academic, and especially those just starting to learn how to balance all the fun and taxing work we do.