Ed Philp, with part 2 of the previous post. Knee-jerk apparently = Kniescheibenreflex. Who knew. Here goes… Comments on Kempen’s statements from the previous post:
- "If Germany
Whatever that means. I know the DHV is essentially a lobby group for professors, but does the country’s academic lobby group have to use such embarassingly populist phrases? The original term used was ‚Offenbarungseid’ – essentially a disclosure of assets which a bankrupt person must present to the court. Perhaps it is time that a number of universities – and DHV members – actually presented such a statement.
- "Above all, Germany
The competitiveness of German universities internationally does not rise or fall on the number of professors, but instead, on the knowledge produced in each field and the quality of education provided to students. Those are appropriately the only true goals for universities. And the appropriate answer for Germany
From an international standpoint, the world envies Germany
- Faculty members exclusively devoted to teaching are indeed inexpensive, but cannot replace "valuable teaching that is constantly renewed by research"; they "can't replace the creation of additional professorships"
Nonsense. The ideal professor is a brilliant researcher, bringing home accolades and prestige to her faculty and conducting innovative timely scholarship that provides a significant contribution to human knowledge. The ideal professor is also someone who is a gifted teacher, able to impart a love of learning to his students, committed to equipping them with the best education available and who is able to identify, foster and mentor the next generation of academic leaders.
For the twin goals of any university – research and teaching – there is lots of room for both of these professors. Indeed, these twin expectations increasingly end up being mutually exclusive. That Janus-faced ‘international competitiveness’ thing rears its ugly head here again. Rarely can the professor who is truly dedicated to excellent teaching also perform innovative genetics research, participate as a member of think-tanks or corporate boards, or oversee an entire institute. Rarely can the professor who does any of these three things also provide the quality of teaching required by a top-flight university. Demanding both today is a recipe for ensuring neither. Provided the ‘teaching professor’ keeps current on recent developments in his field, there is nothing that precludes him from being as valuable to any faculty as the secluded researcher in a lab.
The ‘creation of additional professorships’ may serve to swell the ranks of the DHV; it does not ensure that truly excellent teaching or quality research takes place. If that is the goal, maybe fewer professors – or more stringent requirements upon these – are needed.
And – the notion that only proper professors make a worthwhile contribution to universities is absurd. Kempen does a disgraceful disservice to the some of the finest assets of many German faculties - the professionals who serve as guest lecturers, Privatdozenten, outside tutors or expert adjunct faculty members. Any faculty depends on these people to advance students’ understanding beyond the purely theoretical and to provide students with insight into the application of abstract principles.
- In a DHV statement issued at the DHV's annual meeting, the DHV itself goes on to argue that "university professors who are wholly or mostly entrusted with teaching responsibilities don't earn that (professorial) designation"... however, the oft-cited unity of research and teaching "does not preclude excellent researchers from being relieved of their teaching obligations for short periods entirely, and for longer periods to a significant degree"
That’s an incredibly cheap shot at the professors whose outstanding teaching attracts students in the first place. I think that sentiment would be shared even by pure ‘research’ professors who depend on bright students to assist them with precisely such research. Back to that ‘international competitiveness’ issue: one field where Germany
- "without additional financial incentives to reward excellent teaching, a long-term improvement in quality won't be achievable"
How about this: Without turning quality teaching and/or quality research into a crucial aspect of remaining a paid employee of the university, an improvement in quality won’t be very likely. The financial incentive is called keeping one’s job.
At this DHV conference, Prof. Dr. Peter Huber, Chair of the German Law Faculty Association, apparently also weighed in - receiving applause - when he stated that "less teaching leads to better teaching: a threshold of pain has been reached with the 9 teaching hours required in most German states." "If you told a professor from the US
Huber might be right. In order to fill out that statement: if you told the US prof that he would also have to spend 15 hours a week on administrative crap that a paid staff in the US would normally take care of, and that he is also obliged to obtain approvals for the most meaningless of initiatives and procedures from a dozen surly civil servants in three non-communicative university administration institutions in order to push through a project, obtain independent funding or host a conference, he wouldn’t even bother applying to come here.
And if you insinuated to a US
The problem is the one-size-fits-all mentality at German universities which the DHV seems ready to defend with its life, provided it prescribes the size. There is nothing wrong with asking a young professor to teach nine hours per week, especially if she is proving herself, is good at it, and doesn’t need the time to devote to working with six other interdisciplinary groups to draft a new Charter for the UN. Most young professors would be happy to cut their teeth doing precisely this work, and frankly, many of them need that experience.
On the other hand: Joschka Fischer was recently a guest lecturer at Princeton Princeton
German professors have a great deal at stake in participating in the needed and inevitable reform of German universities. It would appear that they are presently poorly-represented.