From a new novel of academic life, Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members :
Alex Ruefle has prevailed upon me to support his teaching application to your department, which I gather is hiring adjunct faculty members exclusively, bypassing the tenure track with its attendant health benefits, job security, and salaries on which a human being might reasonably live. Perhaps your institution should cut to the chase and put its entire curriculum online, thereby sparing Ruefle the need to move. . . . You could prop him up in a broom closet in his apartment, poke him with the butt end of a mop when you need him to cough up a lecture on Caribbean fiction or the passive voice, and then charge your students a thousand dollars each to correct the essays their classmates have downloaded from a website. Such is the future of education.Maureen Corrigan talked about the novel on NPR’s Fresh Air. Thanks to Sean at Contrapuntalism for sending the link and this excerpt.
As I’ve often written in these pages, I think real college will continue to be available for a fortunate few. Malia and Sasha Obama and Mitt Romney’s grandchildren will no doubt go to college, the real thing. But for the rest of us, the prospects are likely to be different. The great democratization of American higher education in the aftermath of the Second World War begins to look like a glorious, sadly short-lived experiment.
[Pop quiz: Dear Committee Members is written as a series of recommendation letters. What other novel of the teaching life takes the form of letters, memos, and notes?]