This "Bright Gumdrop Unicorn" is about solutions not just problems

Continuing the thought process about junior faculty looking for other jobs (that began here, and continued here, and summed up nicely as a sort of Hotel Californication by Maggie May, and today blew up with this Rate Your Students post and the beginnings of the responses),
here are a few thoughts that I'd like to see addressed. And at the end, a proposed solution.

Having followed the posts, it's interesting to hear that "senior faculty" (by the way, if "junior faculty" get painted as a single brush, so do you, gramps - this post is going to take the same tone I'm seeing from the "senior faculty" in hopes that by speaking their forked tongue language, they'll get the point a bit better) really are as insular as Abe Simpson. First, because it seems they can no longer distinguish between reasons for leaving. In none of the posts above that brought this up has anyone given any indication they're doing a one year and out situation, and yet this seems to be the assumption made by the "senior faculty" posting in response. Second, because they can't quite imagine that people don't love everything the same way they do, they seem to take someone doing typical job things - trying to find positions that fit better, pay better, etc. - as some sort of personal affront. It's great that you love your town, your university, your country, your 7 pm bedtime after "Matlock" is over, but honestly, hegemon, that doesn't mean everyone has to.

If we're not happy, if we're far from the things we care about, if we're not getting what we need then we have two choices: we can wait for you to finish your victory cabbage, your 40 mile walks through the snow with no shoes, and your stories about how FDR beat Superman in a footrace and help us fix it , or we can do something to fix it ourselves. From the posts thus far, the choice is obvious. And if that's the way we feel, why do you want us there anyway? If we're as selfish and egotistical, why cry when we leave? Wait - that would mean you'd have to teach those intro courses you hate, serve on more committees, do more research, reprep old lectures, stop peddling your cars with your feet and enter the modern world.

Most importantly, recognize that you've got more than a little blame in this, old folks. You've perpetuated a system. You've done job hires the way they've always been done, you've hired junior faculty out from under other departments and been glad to have them. You've passed off the duties you don't want to the person at the wrong end of the career ladder. So change how you hire, change who you hire, or hush up and relax - I'm sure "Lawrence Welk" will be on soon, and then you can take your naps and dream of shooing kids off your lawn.

And you know what? I know why you want me to stay. I've just spent parts of several days watching your poor argumentation - name calling, castigation, the need to resort to profanity and sad stereotypes - to bolster your points. I've seen your weak logic, your reliance on strawmen arguments, your inability to think critically about the system you're in, and your strange assumptions that everything is either/or. The whole point of this post, after all, is designed as both argument against and satire of how you "senior faculty" are coming across. You need me to teach you critical thinking as badly as your students do from the sounds of it. Just because I'm looking for a new job doesn't mean I don't appreciate and want to help students, that I don't like the university, or that I voted against social security or whatever it is that's really got your Depends in a wad.

Oh, and that solution: for all of you more curmudgeonly-than-thous who think junior faculty shouldn't leave one job to go to another, put that in your ads. If you really think that badly of someone trying to find a situtation that is good for them and good for the school and their students, own it. You write the job ads. Because I can tell you, if that's your attitude, I don't want to work with you anyway, you narrowminded, judgemental, sanctimonious windbags.


14 Responses to “This "Bright Gumdrop Unicorn" is about solutions not just problems”
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Margaret said...

I love this post so much. You've just made me deliriously happy. If I can stomach it, I may post something serious on this whole kerfluffle later, but for now I'm just going to keep giggling at "Depends in a wad."

October 31, 2007 at 3:12 PM
Dr. Crazy said...

Thank god you wrote this, so now I don't have to write what it occurs to me to write in response. Even though I probably will, and I will probably regret it.

October 31, 2007 at 4:38 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I'll confess this was fun to write, but as with anything intended to be satirical, I do hope the message doesn't get lost for all the mock-vitriol.

October 31, 2007 at 8:24 PM

I love this post. LOVE this post. So. Awesome.

But you know what sucks? It's impossible to win. They can name-call and rant all they like, but if we do, we're being unprofessional and they can dismiss us. Agh. What a waste of energy!

(Still love this post, though!)

October 31, 2007 at 11:09 PM
Notorious Ph.D. said...

You know, I've been thinking about your marriage analogy in the last post, and as I read your last paragraph to this post, it clicked into place for me. People like edsmithers and his ilk don't just want marriage; they want covenant marriage -- you know, the type of marriage offered by some states that doesn't allow for no-fault divorce?

So yeah, put that in the job ads: "Accepting this job will entail a promise never, ever to leave, or even think about leaving, unless we decide to fire you."

October 31, 2007 at 11:26 PM
kfluff said...

I know that this is satirical and designed to call people to much needed self-critique.

But it still made me snort coffee out of my nose. And that was just for the Grandpa Simpson pic.

November 1, 2007 at 8:33 AM
Ms K said...


This made my day.

November 1, 2007 at 9:22 AM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

The covenant marriage analogy is creeping me out. I might have to consider an entirely new career based on that alone. I wonder what job will be the future no-fault ex-Dr. Curmudgeon.

Wow - that's unwieldy.

Kfluff and M.Minkoff, thanks for stopping in - glad I could give you both a grin. And hope you'll stay awhile.

November 1, 2007 at 9:18 PM

Makes me glad I had great senior people around here when I was junior. Not that it was perfect, but better than most places I've heard/read about. You know, there are going to be more and more places like mine with associates in their 30s and 40s in the majority and running the dept. Of the three people who came here my year, one is chair, one is associate chair, and one left for an R1 place after getting tenure here.

OK, so not all senior faculty are old, senile, and vindictive--duh. (But isn't it ironic that the grandpa simpson types are the '60s generation? Don't they realize this?) That said, I will own up to the profanity thing. Onechan just tried out "shit" on me at dinner last night when the tsuma was still at work (quite a move up from "darn it" for an almost-four-year-old)--made for an interesting conversation....

November 2, 2007 at 1:50 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

TC - I think hearing about those stories of positive experiences is really important; there's so much tension attached to this process that all the negative bits (and those are what we focus on).

Thanks for posting; hope to hear more from you.

November 2, 2007 at 7:08 PM
History Geek said...

The picture of Grampa Simpson makes this post.

dream of shooing kids off your lawn

Given the amount of anger he seems to have I think it might be shooting not shooing.

I'd love to know where he teaches so I can avoid him.

November 2, 2007 at 10:43 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I imagine we could probably find him if we wanted, but really, it feels like a better use of time to focus on problems rather than the symptoms (however loud they might be).

And if I haven't already said, thanks for dropping in, HG. Stay awhile.

November 5, 2007 at 9:09 PM
Professor Zero said...

This is a great post! Because this Blog Battle was about such a non-issue, really: *of course* people should go on the market if they feel like it or have reason to
believe it is a good idea, and in reality most senior faculty I've ever known understand that and do it themselves, too.

November 10, 2007 at 2:42 PM
daniel john said...

Thanks a lot for a bunch of good tips. I look forward to reading more on the topic in the future. Keep up the good work! This blog is going to be great resource. Love reading it.

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September 20, 2010 at 8:19 AM