The academy as a whole is corrupt, they tell us. We professors are imprisoned within sclerotic disciplines, obsessed with highly specialized research. We can’t write except in meaningless jargon, and we address only esoteric students, thus ensuring that we have no audience. We train our graduate students to do the same, even though they, unlike us, won’t be rewarded for doing so by gaining tenure-track jobs. We usually don’t train our undergraduates at all, since we leave lower-level teaching to adjunct and contingent faculty. And when we do deign to spend time with them, we offer not rigorous training in source criticism, literary analysis, and argument, but indoctrination into our own left-wing view of politics, the arts, and pretty much everything else.
For all their disagreements on detail, almost all of these critics agree, not only on the symptoms but also on their causes. They have met the enemy, and he is us. We professors have shed our basic responsibility, teaching, in favor of research. Instead of grounding eager young people in the liberal arts, nine or twelve or fifteen hours a week, we barely enter the classroom. Instead we are off-campus, secluded at home or in a library or archive, pursuing specialized research. Every year we write more and more about less and less, filling libraries with unread books and articles and babbling at pointless conferences. And every year we are rewarded for this dereliction with higher salaries and more privileges.
This rich, protean indictment appears, in all its varied forms, in many places—from trade books produced by professors, think-tankers, and journalists to journalistic articles and blog posts. It echoes and reverberates and deafens, like conversation in a fashionable restaurant. And it is often expressed with memorable savagery. Let professors pay for their own vacations in Tuscany, write Hacker and Dreifus, unsubtly suggesting that research trips are really luxurious jaunts to places in the sun.
It’s easy enough to refute individual articles of this indictment.Well, in a nation where college students' ignorance of even the most basic facts of history and civics is well-chronicled, I don't think he does very well with the refutation part atall atall, but you can read the whole thing and decide for yourself. I do give him credit for getting the indictment right, though. Perhaps the only justice in the whole corrupt enterprise is that the true believers, the adjunct professors, get screwed by the system even worse than they screw the students.