Professor Laments That Teaching Is Not the Priority of Teachers

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The Georgetown University professor Jacques Berlinerblau has a secret: He hates graduation. Seated on the dais, listening to the college president and the various honorees assembled to inspire the happy crowd, he finds himself miserable. As one speaker after the next drones on about the joys of education, he finds himself growing increasingly uncomfortable in his academic robes: Such platitudes seem to him painfully at odds with the priorities that guide most modern institutions of higher learning.

This gap between rhetoric and reality, between the “sanctimony, hypocrisy and doublespeak” of academic leaders and the way colleges operate in reality, animates “Campus Confidential.” Berlinerblau, who directs Georgetown’s Center for Jewish Civilization, styles himself as a contrarian guide to the wilds of academe, breaking ranks from the tenured professoriate to give aspiring students and their parents the lowdown on how their dream schools actually work.

His diagnosis is bleak. At heart, he sees a gap between how professors are trained, what they aspire to and what they are rewarded for, and the day-to-day work of an academic job — namely, teaching undergraduates. Prospective students may be drawn to schools because of their esteemed faculty, but once they arrive on campus, he suggests, they will find that these scholars want nothing to do with them. Instead, their education will likely be guided by part-time teachers and graduate students, who are paid a few thousand dollars a course. As Berlinerblau puts it, “While teaching undergraduates is normally a very large part of a professor’s job, success in our field is correlated with a professor’s ability to avoid teaching undergraduates.”





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