Quasi-academic life coaching:
I wonder whether what we need is less advice that normalises unrealistic expectations that will only ever apply to an overcommitted few, and instead begin to expand (or rather, demand) the range of examples and meaningful outcomes that a graduate education in humanities in Australia can lead to. I know a bunch of you who read this blog are engaged in just this kind of crucial, community-based activity, and yet why is it that getting published in journals (that no one has time to read) and books (that no one can afford to buy) is seen as a rational expenditure of time? Particularly when universities and governments, under the sway of Big Scienceâ€™s Big Bucks, donâ€™t even want to acknowledge whatâ€™s regarded as a valuable contribution to humanities knowledge (including that most traditional of outcomes, publishing a book that is highly esteemed amongst your colleagues, as the RQF planning discussions seem to be suggesting).
Mel hits the nail on the head. There are things we do for the job…. publish, etc. then there are things we are and things we must be… social, political, hopefully ethical, and well-rounded human beings. Academia is progressing away from this. I support a model of the academic that is more rounded, that has friends, that has causes, that has fun outside of work that lets them have fun inside of work. People ask me where i have fun and I say that I like to do things on the internet, i like to play games, chat, learn, etc. those are fun things for me.
I was talking with a graduate student at UToronto who said… Oh they expect me to have 6 publications before I graduate. I’m like ‘woaaa, dude’ some of the people that I read and cite didn’t have a single publication until they were 40 or more. You can’t just hire brilliant people anymore apparently… you have to hire published people? this is a problem and it is gettign worse. Some places that i know of require 2 books for tenure? two manuscripts. That is setting the bar at ‘no other life’ and is, I think, depriving our students of well rounded professors and leading to significant other cultural issues in the academy. We need people who are in free to be creative, not free to be productive. if the creativity leads to productivity, great, if it leads to changes in our world that makes it a better place… even better!