My respect for professors has plummetted

Started Sep 16, 2013 | Discussions thread
glasswave Forum Pro • Posts: 10,079
Re: My respect for professors has plummetted

Brian wrote:

glasswave wrote:

Brian wrote:

glasswave wrote:

Brian wrote:

glasswave wrote:

Brian wrote:

glasswave wrote:

Brian wrote:

glasswave wrote:

Brian wrote:

glasswave wrote:

Brian wrote:

glasswave wrote:

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

You don't really say what you are so taken aback by. Are his profs both specifically specifying books that they have written? Are you asserting that a prof should not be able to specify his own book? Are you saying that by using older books that the cost would be cheaper? How much cheaper?

Actually, the way in which we teach beginning physics and calc has changed dramatically over the last hundred years. Perhaps the prof has decided that by using his own book that fits his methods and feels that the class is better because of it. Usually this is why new beginning textbooks are written, in that a prof finds a way of teaching an old topic that gives consistently better results. Then they write a book design to fit that new curriculum.

You can blame a lot of things for the soaring cost of education, but the idea that profs have jack up the prices thru' some mafia like scam of speccing their own books, should not really be one of them.

Maybe books have changed from a hundred years ago, but looking at my sons calc and physics books, they have changed little in the past 25 years.

The price certainly has though. I paid around $50 for my physics and calc books. my son is getting soaked for $200 for the calc and $220 for the physics book. Tuition at the school since I went is up 80% but books are up 200+%. You can't tell me it cost that much more to publish a book. A book that basically hasn't changed in 50 years.

So yes, I blame it on the professors. A basic physics book should be good for at least 5 years. Maybe update the problems and examples from time to time.

So what you are saying is that market forces to not provide sufficient restraint on the textbook market. Do we need a government agency declaring that phys books should not be upgraded before 5 years? Should profs not be allowed to write books? Specify books? What is you solution to this, one of higher ed's most glaring shortcomings (;-))?

you say because a newer book fits his methods. I don't see it.

I did not say that, I only suggested that it may be the the reason. Perhaps the dept has standardized on a certain series of books. Maybe it covers Calc II as well. I don't know, and quite obviously, neither do you.

I thumbed through my daughters precalc book. Didn't really see anything different in it than when I took it many moons ago.

Nothing? Was her book in color? Yours? BTW, I thought we were talking your son's calc & phys books. Not you daughters pre calc. You seem a bit addled.

my son is away to college in a different state. just had a glance and that is it. My daughter is still in high school and still at home and therefore I have access to that one. As for my calc book, it was in color. That doesn't make that math any easier or harder.

Actually, color text books makes math and other subjects much easier to learn. Read the studies. They will confirm this.

It is a way for the professors to make additional income as if they don't already make pretty good loot as it is.

A prof will never get published and wouldn't make much money from writing a book only for his own classes. I am fairly sure the the percentage of profs that teach beginning classes from their own books is very low. Likely way less than one percent.

Also, most profs could make significantly more if they went to work in industry. Is that what this is coming down to? Are you simply jealous of their incomes/station in life.

Quite frankly, you are coming off as some crotchety old curmudgeon that has a need to pretend that everything was just so much better back in the good ol' HIS day?

hmmm all of my professors in my post grad classes used their own texts. In my undergrad, several used their own. several used other texts from profs at the school, and then some used from elsewhere.

I said beginning courses. You must have went to very prestigious schools if nearly all the prof's had written books that applied to all of their classes.

My graduate work was University of Wisconsin. Perhaps not prestigious like Harvard, but a respectable school.

Perhaps your son could look into a good community college, most the profs there are not publishing/consulting and thus make their moneys from teaching. The credits are cheaper and maybe they use cheaper books.

Well that ship has sailed, and even though I don't agree with the pricing of the books, I'd rather have him where he is than a community college.

If you like the school where he is at, why do you have little to no respect for professors?

profs in my profession make a lot of money and I doubt the would do better in industry. They get paid well from the school and then do consulting on the side for buckets of money.

Oh, I see, you are a tad jealous. Why don't you try to become a prof, you could make buckets of money off consulting and spec free books for all your classes.

Actually I could do that. Although I wouldn't mind making more loot, I like what I do now and in many respects that is far more important. So no, I am not jealous.

I am not saying everything was better, I am saying the text book industry is ripping off our students today. There is nothing I can find to justify their cost.

Well then, the free market seems to have failed us, time for the congress to step in.

Perhaps this article will make you feel a tad better:

Today's Assignment: Pay Up

"“That is such a ridiculous comment,” Sanghera said. “I don’t know where it’s coming from.”

Ridiculous or not, some universities have adopted far-reaching policies in recent years that are designed to ensure conflicts of interest don’t arise from textbook assignments. At the University of Kansas, for instance, professors are required to donate any royalties made off their students to their departments, schools, scholarship funds or other nonprofit groups. It is up to faculty, however, to calculate the royalties they believe came from their classes and make the requisite donations."

Fortunately there are many universities that are starting to use online text books for general studies that are free. I suspect more and more will go this way.

Yet, you have little respect for professors?

In the end, you do not appear to know the reasoning for your son's prof's selection of text and you believe that many professors are trying to find ways to lower text book costs, yet you use your sons case as a premise to state that you have little to know respect for the entire field?

-- hide signature --

There is simply too much beauty in the world to photograph it all, but I'm trying.

Are you a professor or something?

Yes, I am a prof. My most expensive book I specify is $60. One book I am forced to use costs $120, but we made a deal with the publisher to offer use 5 chapters for $50. We work very hard to minimize our textbook costs as do many profs.

This is good and bad. Good that you are trying to reduce the costs to the students, but bad that you are playing right along with the publishing company (not that you really have a choice)

Why do you insist on broad brushing an entire profession on the scantest of anecdotal evidence?

Well I was probably wrong to do so.

Why do you insist on defending text books that have risen at twice the rate of inflation?

I am not. I could tell you you things about the textbook industry that would shock you and I am no fan of it.

I doubt there is anything you could tell me about it that would shock me. Unless you were to tell me that are barely scraping by.

The point I am arguing is that your assertions are baseless and w/o merit.

More importantly, I have answered your questions, yet you refuse to answer mine. Why are you being so obtuse?

I thought I had answered most of them. Is there one in particular that I missed that you would like answered?

I admit I was mostly wrong in accusing the professors.

The questions mostly revolved around the specific instance with your son, but based on your latest post, those questions are irrelevant now.

That said what is the solution? You are closer to the problem than I. What is really being done to fix the issue. buying half a text book is not fixing the issue as I am sure you know. The issue is that the text books have tremendously increased in price and students are getting gouged. And as the professors aren't to blame then it is the publishing houses.

I am sure they have banded together and strong arm the schools. The question is what are the schools doing to fight back?

Most depts are making an honest effort to deal with the issue internally. The rules that royalties must be donated is a good one. Yes, the publishers are part of the problem, they employ reps that work like big pharma reps trying to convince profs to spec their books. OTH, unlike pharma, no event tickets, golf rounds or dinners are being proffered, only free eval copies and desk copies. Another problem is the book buyers that cruise campuses with cash to offer to faculty for used books. A few instructors order a fair number of eval copies only sell them to book reps later. It is also common to sell your desk copy and get a new one every semester. Unscrupulous, book resellers will then sell the instructor version to students and then the test questions end up on the www, so instructors switch to a new version.

On the plus side, the problem is beginning to work itself thru market forces. Custom published combined/partial texts, public domain internet textbooks, web based tutorials, text book rental services and used internet resellers are all helping to put pressure on the traditional college bookstore/publisher monopoly model. That model has peaked and college book stores are becoming competitive or losing business.

Well hopefully there is a brighter road ahead. I have 3 more kids ready to start soon.

Finally Brian Wrote:

"If you think professors care about health insurance, you know nothing about the US. They typically have the best insurance coverage around. They don't have a clue about the real world."

It is spewing this kind of stupid bullcrap that prompted me to refute your accusations in the first place. College profs live in the same world as you do, the real world, most of us have worked in industry for a good share of our lives. Yes, college employee health plans tend to be better than average (for janitors as well as profs), but we are just as affected by spiraling health care costs. My coverage has lessened tremendously over the last decade and I have been forced to pay a greater % of my income to receive this watered down coverage.

Ahhhh... I did touch a sensitive string there. I don't know many teachers that aren't sensitive about this topic. And rightly so....

It not about health care, it's about your assertion that profs and now, teachers aren't part of the REAL WORLD. As if they are all on some sort of easy street with no worries about feeding/caring for their families.

Well it is unfair for me to lump all of them together. Most of the ones I know are in the business school or engineering schools and most do very well.

The average salary for professors is about $73k, the median is lower. Most have at least a masters degree. So I'd say reasonable given the education level.

My brother who is a business professor just moved into a 4000 sqft home that backs up to a creek. Just got back from an all expense paid teaching gig in Switzerland. Isn't happy if he has to teach more than two classes a semester.

Am I jealous, maybe a little, but honestly he don't got much up on me other than that super house. and being 8 years younger. That is not the real world.

Yes, it is the real world. Some people manage to get quite good jobs even though they may not work harder than others. And yes, you seem quite jealous, as are most of us when we learn what some people are making for the same or less work.

His dad who also teaches business pulls in $1million+/year. That is very much not real world.

Yes, incomes over a million is exceedingly rare.

Being around them has probably severely skewed my view of the teaching world at the university level. I wouldn't trade lives with either of them though. I like what I do and that is why I do it.

They do have some of the best coverage around and now they are starting to lose it like the rest of us. I started off in automotive with decent coverage. No deduction from my pay check to help cover insurance. It got worse and worse, and after Obama care got signed in, it was almost not worth having the company pay. I was paying $2000/year for coverage, plus a $1000 deductible, and then a large copay, and only 80% coverage for in network.

With the economy, I know the public school teachers around here are starting to feel the same pain. Hopefully it stops for them. I ended up finding new employment where there is a $200 deductible and only $25 copay and everything else is covered 100%.

But yes, this is also irksome. The middle class is being systematically destroyed and too many dolts are all too willing to let the powers at be, turn various sectors of the middle class against each other.

People are all too willing to go to their state capital in mass to protest that their garbageman, teachers, or snowplow drivers make way too much money and should have their salaries/pension/healthcare/benefits cut, when they'd be much better off spending the same time lobbying for policies that help them get better of the same.

I personally wouldn't lobby to reduce those things. But at the same time government needs to be run as a business. if tax revenue is down, and you are bleeding red, things have to get cut. In business the first thing that gets cut is health care. It sucks, but that the way it is. You can't just pass a bill and magic money into your pocket.

It's not the way it used to be. It used to start with stock dividends, then CEO salaries. Yes, layoffs were common in down times but wages and benefits were among the last things to be cut. Requiring massive down cycles to result in wage reductions.

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