ERIC Number: EJ907488
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Reference Count: 9
Commentary: Teachers: Researchers: Altruistic: Self-Centered?
White, Harold B.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, v38 n6 p408-409 Nov-Dec 2010
Not so many years ago the American language was purged of offensive statements by political correctness. Words and phrases that would offend certain constituencies, often women, racial and ethnic groups, and others, became taboo. People learned not to say some of the things they may have thought in the interest of greater inclusion and with respect for diverse populations. In the author's view, the expectation that society would change for the better has occurred as a result. In this article, he challenges an issue of political correctness in academic science. He argues that it is not politically correct to talk about "research versus teaching." One is supposed to say "research and teaching" to indicate the two go hand-in-hand and are not in opposition to each other. After all, survival in academia is dependent on getting tenure supposedly by demonstrating proficiency in both. However, despite the verbiage found in promotion and tenure documents, research far outweighs teaching in these decisions in the sciences at most universities and some colleges. To be truly excellent in both is a goal rarely achieved. Both need to be recognized so that excellent teaching does not get short changed. The author's point is that research in the current competitive culture is fundamentally a self-centered full-time enterprise. Survival of the fittest is measured in grants, publications, and visibility to the individual and institution. That is understandable and has led to spectacular advances in science. However, what are the consequences for teaching, which is also very important but is fundamentally an other-oriented enterprise? What, especially, are the consequences in teaching undergraduate students? Is it reasonable to expect an excellent researcher to be an excellent teacher any more than vice versa? The author contends that perhaps it is time to reward altruism in the professoriate so that assistant professors do not have to conceal an interest in education and can be promoted with tenure for being exceptional educators in places where research is dominant.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A