As an academic I’ve always wondered whether top administrators have any idea who I am, much less what I’m doing in the classroom. I’ve been mistaken for a student at two different universities, and one administrator recently asked if I was one of the new assistant football coaches. The Dean of my college (the College of Business at Nicholls State University), however, is supposed to pay attention to the people he works with.
And as far as I can tell, my Dean does an excellent job (I hope he’s reading this). But I’d wager that he would be hard-pressed to discuss any of my research in great detail, and probably knows very little of what I say in the classroom. I have no problem with this arrangement, though, because productive Deans typically don’t micro-manage professors.
However, I’m confident he’d take notice, as well as corrective action, if I started telling my students things like:
- It’s OK if you can’t understand basic math as long as you embrace your differences
- Don’t worry about interpreting that income statement, it’s more important to reach the full measure of your humanity
- Profit is a meaningless concept, it’s far more important to realize you have the power to change your own life
- I’m not really too concerned with whether you can average numbers, it’s my opinion that teaching is something beyond the instrumental and the linear
I’m not even sure what the second part of this last bullet means, but all of these statements are taken directly from the writings of Bill Ayers, the former terrorist leader who’s philosophy is/was “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, Kill your parents.”
The good news? Ayers will no longer be teaching our teachers how to teach. The sad but true news? The Dean of Ayers’ school (the College of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago) is upset that he is leaving. The Chicago Tribune reports:
While controversial and even hated by some, Ayers, who has served as an education professor at UIC since 1987, is celebrated on campus for his academic contributions, particularly in the area of school reforms, said UIC education Dean Vicki Chou.
Academic contributions? Has Ayers spent his professional/post-terrorist life studying what types of school reforms work best? Not really. Can we even credit one such study to Ayers? Not exactly.