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The Paradoxical Academic

Author: joe

Monday, 02 November, 2009 - 21:28

The most impressive management skill is to be able to hold and argue in favour of two contrary, exclusive and irreconcilable positions at the same time.

For instance in a university an academic should be passionate about research and strive to minimise teaching time in order to concentrate on research; at the same time, one should not concern oneself with the conflicting pressures on time and energy that the seemingly different requirements of research and teaching exert, since really research and teaching are essentially both just instances of the same thing: your passion for your subject.

Or: of course an academic does not necessarily have to have a doctorate in order to execute their job; but equally obviously, anyone serious about being an academic should of course do a doctorate - why would they not, if they are passionate about their subject?

Or: no academic should seriously be considering the amount of time they devote to different activities such as research and teaching, because they should all be part of the same process which is geared towards output. Meanwhile, the outputs which those academics are measured upon are produced as part of a working timetable which most human beings experience as occurring in, occupying and taking up time.

Or: one should be selfish with one's time, such that others do not divert your attention from your own research passions; meanwhile, one should be collegiate and work supportively with colleagues and students.

I am deeply impressed by the notion that I can contribute to excellent teaching through research by doing less teaching, be an unacademic academic, unselfishly deny students the time they ask of me, unselfishly refuse to provide cover for sick colleagues, unselfishly take no part in projects colleagues invite me to take part in, so that I can selfishly protect my time. (sorry, not "time", "output"). It is possible that the time I have taken to write this Trot nonsense is an example of inefficiency on my behalf.

Categories: academia, management,
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