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Alfred de Grazia:


An Academic Impasse (An Editorial)

If a professor were permitted to be a scholar and a gentleman he might spend his time like this: He would teach six hours a week and use twelve to prepare his presentations. He would keep abreast of the tide of literature by reading five books a month; two would be new books, three would be old; if he read thirty pages an hour, he would require about eleven hours a week for the task. Then twenty-five new and five old articles would need study each month, consuming seven hours a week. The New York Tomes and two weekly magazines would take up about nine and a half hours. His creative literary work would consist of preparing syllabi and other instructional materials (one hour a week), and writing one article (250 hours), one book review (twenty hours), and about thirty pages (thirty days) of the Book, per year. Thus far our professor has used up 52-1/2 hours of the 168 hours in a week.

Since our professor's university is one of the best (viz Six hours of teaching), his additional duties are minimal. An hour a week for MA and one-half hour for PhD students, one hour for grading papers, two hours in committee work, one hour for personal typing, one hour of extra appearances before students and outside groups, three hours visiting with students, and tow hours of professional correspondence and activities. Our scholar has now given up sixty-four hours.

Today field research is important. Our professor -- alone, with a colleague, with his students--would be engaged yearly in at least one small field research project leading to the publication of an article. Whether it is spread out for is concentrated in the summer, an average of five hours a week per annum will go into it. Our man's week is now sixty-nine hours long.

So far no gentleman he. But then he belongs to a church (two hours), spends time with his family (fourteen hours), reads "broadening literature" such as novels (one hour), and listens to music (one hour). He has to spend two hours in commuting. Being an active citizen takes another hour.

Recreation and two weeks of vacation had best be counted as substitutes for some of the tasks of the academic year, for we are already up to ninety hours a week. Perhaps the family will not feel neglected if some eating time is counted as family time. But still at least five eating hours must be added. Seven hours are not excessive for personal care, nor two hours for housework and one for gardening. We settle at 105 hours per week, leaving sixty-three hours for sleep and many other activities.

Under the circumstances, any interest he might have in the problems of leisure in modern society is academic and altruistic. So persistent are the extra non-scholarly demands, that only the rarest scholar can live on this minimum intellectual level for more than a few years. Thus illness, romancing, raising infants, holding a government or private position engaging in politics (including engaging in campus politics), heavier teaching loads (at eight schools out of ten), being a "pal" to the students, having an avocation or regular sport, army service, hyper-broad reading habits, and conviviality, will singly and together cancel out many years of an academic life.

Yet some minimum number of year, say ten, must go into this schedule or a better one in order to create a scholar, if he be such other than by fiat. Therefore, inevitably, only a platoon of men will be productive and informed scholars in a generation and these men must typically be so eccentric as to justify the populace's stereotype of the intellectual and scientist.

The highly touted planned society can hardly redeem the situation--as by wooing productive scholars into foundation and government jobs, or by convening endless committees to manage the planned reforms. The scholar himself can do much more, primarily by not trying to be a gentleman. He might also make himself repugnant to whoever steals his time--college committees, public officials, ladies clubs, student social groups. (But so strong is the desire for charitable relations, that he may devote even more time to fringe groups composed of repugnant friends.) He might join a holy order, but God takes up more time than his wife would. He might form a bread-and-butter union to strike for higher pay and shorter hours, but this would be unscholarly. He might inherit or marry into a fortune; we highly recommend this step. But best of all is the policy of drift-- let come what will come; a man can be decent and prosperous if his incompetency is in the order of things.

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