December 15, 2013

Institutions of Higher Performance

Filed under: Life,Politics — camcintosh @ 3:47 pm

I recently filled out a course evaluation. Most of the questions wanted my assessment of the instructor’s “performance” in some area. Assessment of the instructor’s ability to instruct seemed peripheral at best. It was nauseating. By the time I encountered the final question “How would you evaluate the instructor’s overall performance?” I couldn’t resist responding: “Overall, I was not very impressed with the instructor’s performance. It could have been a lot better had he instructed class on roller skates or while hulahooping.” It is as deplorable as it is understandable. A performance, after all, is what most students must expect from their instructors now days, right? (If you have any doubt, just watch a few “TED talks”.) And how else should an instructor be evaluated but by whether they meet students’ expectations?

An “institution of higher performance” sounds more like a car-testing site; the instructor-machines are put through crash courses and are then subjected to performance ratings.



  1. Nicely underplayed comedic take on the multiple meanings of the word “performance”.

    Philosophy’s one of my favorite majors that have no direct connection whatsoever to any career, aside from teaching philosophy. Enjoy it while you can!

    Comment by Invisible Mikey — December 15, 2013 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

    • I’m not sure what you mean by “direct connection,” Mikey. Care to elaborate?

      Comment by camcintosh — December 15, 2013 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

      • Having a degree in those majors does not lead straight to a job, like for example one in electrical engineering or health care management might. Last time I checked, no companies have open positions for “philosopher”. That’s all I meant by “direct”.

        This is not to say studying philosophy isn’t important, since understanding and choosing your own values influences every conscious choice you make and shapes your relationships. This is vital information to gain, even if career-wise it has an indirect effect.

        Comment by Invisible Mikey — December 16, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

  2. Ah, I see. I’d hope anyone pursuing a degree in philosophy would not be doing so to get a job. As I see it, getting a job or having a “career” is peripheral to studying philosophy, not the other way around. As Mill put it, “Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.” Or, as Mill’s philosophical better has it, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

    Comment by camcintosh — December 17, 2013 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

    • Teaching philosophy is career, isn’t it? :) I also believe that studying humanities can lead to many kind of jobs – public service, journalism, publishing, marketing. You learn how to study effectively can easy gain some new qualifications and find lucrative job, if he want it, of course. Doing philosophy is not something only for ivory tower at university, there are many non-philosophers like me who study philosophical works (and buy books :) not for enjoyment (it seem childish to study Wittgenstein, Moore and Russel for enjoyment) but for serious engagement with important ideas.

      Comment by Miloš — December 18, 2013 @ 6:59 am | Reply

      • Studying philosophy no doubt has practical benefits. But its defense does not lie in its utility. See here and here.

        Comment by camcintosh — December 18, 2013 @ 11:49 am

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