Monday, January 4, 2010

Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go

A great article from the Chronicle of Higher Education about the dangers of pursuing an advanced degree in the humanities. It's a sad state of affairs, and I wish it were otherwise, but that's not the case.

Here's the killer quote for me:

Most undergraduates don't realize that there is a shrinking percentage of positions in the humanities that offer job security, benefits, and a livable salary (though it is generally much lower than salaries in other fields requiring as many years of training). They don't know that you probably will have to accept living almost anywhere, and that you must also go through a six-year probationary period at the end of which you may be fired for any number of reasons and find yourself exiled from the profession. They seem to think becoming a humanities professor is a reliable prospect — a more responsible and secure choice than, say, attempting to make it as a freelance writer, or an actor, or a professional athlete — and, as a result, they don't make any fallback plans until it is too late.

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen Calls for End to Homework in Elementary School

From the Blog Stop Homework:

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen Calls for End to Homework in Elementary School: "

(Welcome back and thank you so very much for your generous donations to Stop Homework)

Over a decade ago, the economist and Nobel Prize winner, Amartya Sen, formed the Partichi trust to examine the issues of primary education and health in India. Last month, he released the Partichi Education Report II, which recommended ending homework in elementary school and focusing on reading, writing, and arithmetic during school hours. The report also stressed the importance of recognizing and addressing the role of class barriers in educational under-achievement.

According to,

Prof. Sen said: “A somewhat counter-productive overloaded curriculum, incomplete education during school hours and necessity of homework are the reasons that there is a perceived necessity of private tuition since the parents try to supplement at home the education which could not be completed in school.”

He recommended “re-examination of the curriculum and banishing the necessity of homework at the elementary level” to overcome the situation.

Prof. Sen also emphasised the deep social impact the system has among the economically disadvantaged sections.

“It [the problem of class division] applies particularly to the first-generation school-goers, whose parents remain illiterate … the parents can neither help their children with their homework nor can they afford a private tutor. So then, instead of removing inequality through education, we perpetuate inequality between the haves and the have-nots.”