"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

God and professors--paradise without tenure

God:  "Welcome to Heaven. Sorry for the memorized formula speech, but we have to read you your rights. You've got your welcome packet, met the lawn crew, read the rules, signed consent and release of liability forms, signed up for health care insurance like Congressmen get, been assigned mansions just over the hilltop with silver fixtures and  streets of gold,  got pass keys to the stables of The Four Horsemen, know where the cafeteria is, gone through training to use the Help-Desk, got security clearance from IT, and have been issued always-clean-no-wrinkle white robes. Any questions?"

Professors: "When is fall break and what office hours do we have to keep?"

God: "Give Me a break. There is no work here,  no office hours. If you can sing, you can join the choir. For others, like Clark, we'll find something else to occupy your time, oops--no time up here either--to keep you busy."

Professors: "It seems we've filled out a lot of paperwork and useless forms."

God: "I figured you university types had lots of experience with that, so I wanted you to feel at home. Don't worry, the forms will soon change and you can do them over."

Professors: "How come the angels have different colored robes? We see some with gold, silver, bronze,  and ours are white?"

God: "The gold robes are for Full angels, silver for Associate angels, bronze for Assistant angels, and white for Lecturers."

Professors: "What? We're full professors. We don't even speak to lecturers."

God: "Up here, we have a real 'higher-ed' system. It's based on service, not snobbery."

Professors: "Service? We've all been on committees and task forces and faculty senates and  ..."

God: "Not that kind of time-wasting mediocrity. We don't have any time to waste. Literally. Up here, service means actually helping people."

Professors: "So what about research?"

God: "Just ask Me."

Professors: "Would you mind repeating that construct so we can dialog  with you as to the impact of this concept vis-a-vis our cognitive post-modern theses..."

God: "Stop it. No profanity up here."

Professors: "About research, God. It was more important that teaching or service down there, and we're specialists in analyzing minutiae so we can publish it in academic journals."

God: "I repeat, if you want to find something out, or do research, just ask Me. I know the answers, all of them. Quantum physics? Philosophy? The name of Shakespeare's dog? --Yes, Shakespeare had a dog. Never would have found out that would you?--Why Conan was really fired?  How the so-called Religious Right's synapses misfire in their brains and the chemical analysis of that?  Literature? Did you know there's a lower level of Hell that Dante forgot about? The one reserved for autocratic administrators and poor teachers.
"Name your discipline--such a silly term for knowledge--and I can give you all the answers, and the statistical calculations and chi-squares, immediately.Where do you think 'Rain Man' got his talent?  I am a know-it-all. No brag, just fact. Nope, no need for 'research' up here, sorry.
"And publishing? That is so 18th Century. Nobody reads those 'journals'  anyway, much less understands all that obtuse academic jargon. They just gather dust.  I'm not interested. Now if you've written something for Mad Magazine, I might be, or if you have an I-phone ap for Mad, cool."

Professors: "Then why are we here?"

God: "Good question. I wonder that Myself. Well, you all must be pretty good teachers. Your dossiers show you actually liked students--even Freshmen. You helped them learn,  weren't boring, didn't talk down to them, learned their names, mentored them, didn't mind being disagreed with, kept your doors open for them, weren't rude or arrogant, kept your office hours, were on time, were usually prepared, had a sense of humor and were secure in challenging them and being challenged."

Professors: "So how do we get to move up to Full Angel. What about 'shared governance' and when do we get tenure?"

God: "I've got a lot of people who need a lot of help. Lists everywhere. Get busy."

Professors: "Uh, about  faculty senate and tenure...."

God: "There ain't no faculty senate or tenure up here. I don't 'share governance.' That's why I'm God. Don't have to. Satan has a faculty senate--meets  and talks forever and never gets anything done...modeled after your systems."

Professors: "No tenure in heaven. Why we thought...."

God: "Ever hear of the fallen angels? No. Hmm, I thought you were educated. You did know Milton plagiarized in 'Paradise Lost,' didn't you? Check out his source, an old book among many I recommend. I've got it on a podcast if you want visuals. It might be apocalyptic for you.

Professors: "Godda...er, Youdammit, God. Tenure...why that guarantees our academic freedom...."

God: "MeDammit. Look, If you want tenure, you can go to Hell. Never have to leave. Never will."

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