In a lot of ways, one of the best discoveries that’s come from blogging (other than, you know, the part where people pay me to write stuff) was Confessions of a Community College Dean (he now publishes his stuff at Inside Higher Ed, too, but I’m an old-school blog hipster and so always link to the Blogspot site that I discovered before it was cool). I don’t remember how I first got pointed to this, but I’ve been reading him for a long time, and it’s been really eye-opening, both for getting the administrative perspective on a lot of situations, and for getting outside the elite college sector where I’ve spent more than half of my life. (As of last year, I’ve had a Ph.D. for longer than I lived at home with my parents, which is a great “Damn, I’m old…” realization.) He’s really changed my perspective on a lot of questions around higher education.
In some other ways, it’s also been one of the worst discoveries– in the immortal words of David St. Hubbins, it’s too much fucking perspective. Reading “Dean Dad” over the years (as well as a bunch of other academic blogs, many of which I found via his posts) has made me acutely aware of a lot of really bad trends in other sectors of academia. A lot of these are things that I’m personally insulated from by a thick bubble of institutional privilege. But I’m not fool enough to think that just because we’re temporarily insulated from these problems that we’re immune to them, and some of these are pretty scary.
And, you know, there are a lot of days when I wish I wasn’t aware of those issues. It’d be really nice to sail serenely along thinking that the biggest issues we as faculty need to be aware with are things that only affect the elite of the elite, who operate near the top of the various bullshit artificial status hierarchies created by college ranking schemes.
Of course, that’s a terrible idea. I’m fairly certain that I’m a better person for having gained that wider perspective, and for making an effort (not always successfully) to keep the broader realities of higher education in mind. But man, there are days when my life would be easier and happier if I could ignore all that stuff…