Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My "Issue" Essay, NO.6

TOPIC: ISSUE50 - "In order to improve the quality of instruction at the college and university level, all faculty should be required to spend time working outside the academic world in professions relevant to the courses they teach."
WORDS: 566 TIME: 01:05:00 DATE: 2008-10-14 18:55:48

In this statement, the speaker points out that college faculty should work outside universities and thus can help improve their performance as college instructors. I partly agree with the speaker, but he/she overlooks some potential passive factors and the fact that not every faculty needs these experiences.

To begin with, I concede that working experiences in companies or even governments can help college teachers to get more accurate understanding on what they study. In the tower of ivory, students and teachers study their subjects by means of reading books, logical reasoning, or experiments in laboratories. I admit that, knowledge acquired from these methods can reflect the real world to some extent. However, in most cases, when they are applied into reality, many problems might rise. For instance, when many technologies were first introduced into our society, they received cold response from the customers. Similarly, economists have worked out lots of mathematical models to explain how the finance system works, or to predict whether the Dow-Jones Index will rise. However, these works seldom success to fulfill their original purpose, although the statistic data they based on was reliable and the analyses of these economists were reasonable. Those failures were mostly attributable to the lack of practice experience.

Nevertheless, getting jobs, even part-time jobs, calls for large amount of time and energy. If one pay too much attention on business outside the academic world, his/her teaching and researching would be hindered. One thing we need to notice is that, if we want to learn something that can help us to draw a clear view on the society and the relative fields, we should spend magnificent time and energy into those work. For example, if a young teacher in the department of Computer Science wants to gain practice experience in software engineering, he is required to join a developing team in large software companies such as Microsoft, SUN Micro-systems, Oracle, etc. A typical software project will last for six months or more. In this period, one can hardly take teaching tasks in university. Even in some other field, such as legal profession. Some professors in law schools may work as attorneys for part-time job. Although solving a law case requires less time than working out a large software system, the professors' work will inevitably conflict with his regular lecture for his students.

Furthermore, the speaker failed to take the complexity of different disciplines into consideration. Different majors require different level of practical experience, so we cannot assert that all faculties should work outside or spend the same time for those works. Some majors have more links with our daily life, but others have not. Faculty in theoretical physics, arts, history, archaeology, and philosophy should pay most of their attention to the teaching and research in college, for there are no directly relative professions in these subjects. One the other hand, for faculty in business management, financing, accounting, and engineering, they can find relative companies easily. A professor is qualified as he can prove that he can manage a company skillfully, and a teacher of engineering should also have experiences in technologies companies. In some extreme condition, some teachers may be hired from large companies and works part-time in colleges.

In conclusion, I also recommend teachers to take some part-time jobs, if they can balance the "expense" and "revenue", and their disciplines need these kinds of work experience.

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