If you’ve ever taken an economics class, one thing you should have learned is that economists believe that competition is superior to all other market structures. But it seems that economists talk the talk but don’t want to walk the walk:
Economic majors, including myself, were asked recently to vote on our favorite economics professor. Excitedly, I scrolled the list looking for my favorite economist.
Although he presents both sides of economic arguments in class, he tends to the right of center when it comes to economic policies. And he makes the subject come alive in so many exciting ways.
I was upset when I did not see his name on the list. I sent out some email queries and I got my reply from the powers that be: He was not up for contention this year because he won last year.
Yes, you read that right. This university disqualified a professor — because he did so well — in the economics department of all places. The reasons given were the usual tripe: fairness and spreading the “wealth,” so to speak. They don’t want the same person winning two times in a row. Apparently, this professor had won by such a large margin last year contest organizers saw the writing on the wall and intervened.
The fact that an economics professor has been prohibited from being on a ballot for the “best economics professor” award because he won last year has ironic and paradoxical implications.
That’s another reason why I don’t miss academia all that much: it’s not a meritocracy. The professor who wins the “Best Teaching” award often cannot teach the subject any better than the grad students that he is
tormenting mentoring. I know it’s just anecdotal, but the best teachers in my department were myself and two other grad students. In fact, the first year I taught as a GTA the department did an investigation because our student evaluations were so much better than the tenured professors’. When their investigation turned up no wrong-doing by us, they decided that the reason for our high evaluation scores was that we were “too easy” on the students (tell that to the majority of our students who got Cs, Ds, and Fs). The truth was that those professors didn’t want to teach the Principles courses to undergraduates; in fact, they spent much of their time trying to avoid them.
This juvenile attitude carries over on such things as “Best Professor” awards. For one professor to win an award year in and year out would mean that the others in the department weren’t as good as their CVs told them: they were failing at one of their primary reasons for being employed. And that their tenure was undeserved. Not to mention the fact that it would bruise their egos and hurt their feelings.
And we can’t have that in the snowflake-covered Ivory Towers of academia, now can we?
For more on my adventures in grad school, you can read the following posts:
- Adieu, les universities!
- I’m not the only one.
- This is why no one in the United States understands economics.
- Don’t go to graduate school.