Some Hard Stats about University Teaching

Thinking about becoming a university professor?  Read Kevin Birmingham’s “The Great Shame of Our Profession” before making definite plans.

A 2014 congressional report suggests that 89 percent of adjuncts work at more than one institution; 13 percent work at four or more. The need for several appointments becomes obvious when we realize how little any one of them pays….

According to the 2014 congressional report, adjuncts’ median pay per course is $2,700. An annual report by the American Association of University Professors indicated that last year “the average part-time faculty member earned $16,718” from a single employer. Other studies have similar findings. Thirty-one percent of part-time faculty members live near or below the poverty line.

queueingtheadjuncts

It’s amusing to think of all the underpaid university adjuncts striking for a “living wage.”  Unfortunately, the pool of potential “scabs” is way too deep for any strike to be effective for more than one semester.

Of course, not all disciplines have the same problems.  My department is chronically desparate to find enough statisticians to teach all our courses, and I’ve been comfortably esconced in a non-tenure track job for over 15 years.  But statisticians are rare birds, and everyone I’ve talked too allows as how it’s far too late for them to swot up on their math and stats to become employable.

Tip from the Instapundit, who knows exploitation when he sees it.

Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated

The ability of statistics to accurately represent the world is declining. In its wake, a new age of big data controlled by private companies is taking over – and putting democracy in peril.

begins William Davies tale of woe in the Guardian.  Unfortunately, he confuses credible statistics with modern state-istics*; and seems impervious to the idea that Joe Sixpack has wised up to the fact that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics,” and that most of these are peddled by the Leviathan State and its corporate cronies.  Usually to Joe’s detriment.

Statistics in industry and scientific research is doing quite well, thank you.  The Big Data movement is still immature and riddled with snake-oil salesmen; it will eventually spot them, possibly by applying its methodologies reflexively.

Tip from that same O’Reilly Newsletter.  Finally, I got on a sucker list that’s interesting!

*Where did you think the word came from?

Calculus as a Microagression

definiteintegral
Shield yourself.

Yesterday I was cautioned by the recounting of an event that occurred in our College of Business.  It seems that a lecturer was explaining a concept that required either averaging or the area under a curve, and resorted to writing an integral on the board, by way of illustration.  This was NOT a demonstration of technique, nor an explanation of how to perform calculations required in the course, rather just background.  However, one student–correctly recalling that calculus was not a prerequisite–took umbrage; he wrote a letter of complaint to the Dean!  Holy hellfire sh!t! Just last week I spent 10 minutes explaining to my calculus-averse biostatistics students how the standard normal table was constructed (integration does not conquer all).  I had no idea I was skating so close to the edge.  Probably because I’m an idiot or a lunatic.

The Inside Scoop on Women’s Studies

Toni Airaksinen, a rising junior at Barnard College in Manhattan, gives us all the skinny on what women’s studies is all about.  It’s all WLB-iness.*

So, if you’re not finding oppression: look harder.  The unfortunate consequence of this theory is that oppression will be found everywhere — even where it doesn’t exist.

Ashe Schow takes it one step further describing “Where feminism went wrong”

No longer are feminists devoted to equality — because men and women do have equal rights under the law (although Janet Bloomfield has pointed out five legal rights women have that men don’t). The focus now is on parity, and the refusal to accept that men and women might just be different enough on aggregate that they have different priorities in life.

Tip from the Instapundit, who is not amused.

* Whiny Little Bitch (which, since it is derived from prison jargon, applies to all sexes and genders)