“Gilded cage?” Maybe it’s not where you think.

There’s nothing quite as disappointing as seeing those who should get it  — who by all rights should be your allies, your friends, your family — making silly and ultimately harmful observations.

Especially when those observations add to a miasma of half-truths, stereotypes and unfortunate political leanings that are slowly and steadily choking education in this country.

"Gilded Cage," courtesy of KayVee.INC through Creative Commons.

“Gilded Cage,” courtesy of KayVee.INC through Creative Commons.

Of all the dismal news and opinion I’ve read in the last couple of weeks, the most disheartening was this blog entry about a former academic who quit to form a business.  The company will produce an online app that pre-structures essays for students so they can “focus on content.”

Starting the company, author Lindy Ledhowski wrote, was preferable to being caught in the “gilded cage” of a tenure-track and eventually tenured position.

In such a position, she “would face no risks, but … be safe.”  Now there’s a contrast whose supposed oppositions and subtleties I likely never will grasp.

Ledhowski found it far more attractive to “make jobs for other people” than be in “a job.” The professoriate, she apparently believes, is an area in which “stasis” would be inevitable, at least for her.

Personal ephiphanies are fine. When those are gussied up in the language of education’s most ardent enemies, it’s a little more problematic.

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Help! I can’t teach!

The happy (and hard-working) graduate

Graduation weekends are always special, but this one was particularly fulfilling for me, as I got to award my niece’s diploma onstage at the UW-Stevens Point afternoon commencement ceremony.  They’re also bittersweet, because graduation means some of our favorite people will be moving on.  Our niece Ivannia Herrera Gonzalez is one of them, and we couldn’t be prouder — she graduated early and magna cum laude.

But it means she’ll probably be leaving town soon. That’s tough, because it’s been really great to have more family around during her time at UWSP.  I’ll also miss our Pointer graduates and a whole slew of other students in communication and other areas.

Their leaving, regardless of how happy I and other faculty members are for them, is made a little tougher by the fact that we get to stay behind and try to keep things running smoothly when it’s clear that public support for education in Wisconsin is in serious trouble.  I went to a picnic tonight that was attended primarily by folks at the university, and that trouble was a constant theme of discussion.  At the same time — perhaps because it is  the end of the year and so many of the picnic guests were still beaming about our new grads and the prospects of at least a little summer break — there was plenty of optimism that we’d somehow survive next year’s troubles, too.

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