Blog post asks whether nice academics finish last | Inside Higher Ed
It's no secret that I have my own views on this matter. Academics do try to "prove themselves" to each other and the world at large. That goes back to my recent post about Whining Rhetoricians. There is a martyrdom complex (because we're not understood, we must be great) and more than a little hubris. Sorry, but I know plenty of people smarter and wiser than me, some with "only" high school diplomas, but plenty of real experiences.
The fact is that in academia you rise by critiquing (criticizing) others. Admittedly, I criticize my own field for its often self-absorbed political, social, and academic views. Again, I have written in the past of academics lacking a desire to understand different cultures within our own nation, while telling everyone we need to understand the world better.
I know that I am not going to have the unflinching support of some colleagues, simply because I don't agree with some of the leading "scholarship" in my field. (Too much of our academic literature is simply opinion and anecdote. Yes, there is a place such pieces, but they often dominate rhetoric and composition journals and conferences.)
My colleagues care a lot about their students and their disciplines. Unfortunately, too many of them teach collaboration in the classroom while demonstrating a competitive edginess (nastiness, meanness) that goes beyond what I have seen in private industry. When the "capitalists" are nicer than the left-leaning academics, maybe we should pause and ask what could be learned from industry?
Again, I am guilty of criticizing, too, but I hope my criticisms are a voice for a different approach to higher education. We need to accept other ideas, other theories, and even (gasp!) collaborate with colleagues with whom we have some disagreements. We should learn from each other.
Too bad that "stardom" in academia is based on loud, often minor, arguments. The style of academic journals exacerbates this perception. Again, that is a shame.