Winter for Higher-Ed
Winter Is Coming, and Humanities Profs Can’t Wish It Away
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  • Andrew Allison

    The discussion in this post overlooks the point made in its first sentence, namely that there are far too many PhDs being graduated, especially in the humanities. Rather than self-interested attempts to waste more money on churning out PhDs, the vast majority of which are not required for the available jobs, should we not be redirecting our efforts toward growing the economy and filling the jobs thus generated.
    Incidentally, the statement that, “demand for instruction in English and related fields has gone up over time” is disingenuous. Like that for mathematics, demand gone up because 40% of those entering college require remedial courses which could, and should, be taught by high school teachers.

    • Kavanna

      And a PhD is not needed to teach in the humanities, at least in many cases. Even now, unlike in the sciences, it’s not universal. A masters degree is enough.

  • Kevin

    The big problem English PhDs face is that they want to teach and research about critical theory and various other abstractions yet what students and employers want from English departments is students who can read and write clearly.

    • Andrew Allison

      “Those that can, do . . .” Should high school graduates be able to read and write clearly? Have we reached the point at which literacy requires a post-secondary education?

      • Kevin

        They should but they can’t. It’s easy for colleges to fall back on the “That’s not my job” excuse as in an ideal world students would arrive at college knowing these things, but in the world we live in students do not. So if they care about preparing their students they will make sure they teach them how to write well.

        • Andrew Allison

          At exorbitant cost, to both the student and society. The problem is that the schools are not falling back on “not my job” but eagerly expanding to take on the job for which high school teachers are still being paid. The logical end to this is simply abolish high school and send junior high grads straight to college (not that I’m suggesting that). What I am suggesting is that competency in the three Rs should be a college entrance requirement.

  • Tom

    What’s slightly disappointing here is that the staff misses the possible connection between this story and a previous one on the site, that of the MLA’s decision to consider boycotting Israel (link here:, which, given the makeup of the panel recorded, will probably end in an “aye” vote.
    Perhaps if the professoriate spent more time on matters actually involved in teaching (that is, doing what they were hired to do) as opposed to dabbling in politics, they wouldn’t be in this fix.

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