I’m sure a lot of folks in the humanities are feeling like this English Phd, who has had enough with academe. A litany of reasons for leaving.
This article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) has given me a lot to think about. For one, I’m wondering if the answer to the current crisis in the humanities–that crisis which has given us an ever-increasing surplus of humanities PhDs to match the scarcity of jobs for them in higher education–does not mark a shift in the academic landscape. Perhaps we’ve hit the point in our cultural evolution, in America, where an advanced degree will be needed to enter the teaching profession, even at the primary and secondary school level. No longer will a bachelor’s degree be sufficient to gain employment in our schools.
Of course, this would mean that a more rigorous pedagogical training will have to be implemented in graduate school programs. And, in principle, high school students will be increasingly prepared for college and, by extension, graduate school–thus increasing our abundance of PhDs…(okay, this slope may be a bit slippery). But what would an improved college preparation in public school amount to? Smarter students? Students who are intellectually more curious? That’s fine, but what are they preparing for? One answer is: to be teachers, occasionally in higher education but more likely in our public schools. Perhaps this kind of feedback loop could reinvigorate the humanities by getting kids hyped about literature or, *gasp*, philosophy at an earlier age. All of this is just speculative musing, of course.
Those with a BA in education would be discouraged from ending their study, precisely because their job prospects would be dismal. But would this lead to a lack of willing teachers? It’s not like an entry-level job at the university pays a great deal more, if it pays more at all. There’s much to be said about this and I think this is a discussion that needs to continue.