Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Academic survival

As readers might have noticed, in the recent times I have been focusing on the problems of Academia. Why? Should not one just focus on one's work? Of course, focusing on one's work is one's biggest contribution. But, globally seen, one can hardly avoid considering the enormous amount of time and energies wasted just because of rivalries and all sorts of purpose-less figthing. In other words, universities and other research centers could achieve much more, if only their team were not busy with internal quarrels. Hence, I think that it makes sense to try to ameliorate the status quo.

I just read in a non-academic blog (the well-known blog by Seth Godin) about an interesting paradox, i.e., people usually do not want to be reminded of what they can do, but chose not to do, although they do not mind day-dreaming about what they could do (if only they could afford it, if only…). They read about cars they will never buy, but are irritated by reading about the TV they could have bought, but chose not to.

This might happen also in the Academia. Colleagues who are too old to travel abroad to conferences, might be positive about more mobility within the department. But colleagues who have chosen not to travel to conferences (e.g., because they are too shy to present their ideas to a wider audience) might be seriously against it. Because the very fact that someone else does it, forces them to reconsider their options. And this is painful.

My proposed solution: belittle yourself. Say that the option you are fighting for is almost insignificant. Make it appear non-appealing, so that the colleagues who have chosen against it, but are afraid to regret their choice are not brought that far.
Do readers have better solutions? And what do they think about the general problem? Did I describe it correctly?

On team work, see here and here. On the risks of criticising the academic establishment (and the need of criticisms), see here.


Jayarava said...

Hi Elisa - I wouldn't usually correct your English, but in this case there is a world of difference "revalries" [sic] and rivalries. ;-)

The rivalry is one of the reasons I prefer not to pursue an academic career, despite much pressure over the years from friends with PhDs. Though on the other hand some academics, such as yourself, are very generous with their time and expertise.

elisa freschi said...

Well, thank you so much! And please, feel free to correct me as often as you like. As I said already, I enjoy criticism and I like work to become shared.
Re the second point, may I ask a direct question? Is the Academia full of rivalries? Or isn't it the case that rivalries, envy, etc. make us waste time and energy throughout our experiences? In short: there is no happy island and the Academia is not worse than the common world. Although it is such a pity that it is not better.

Anonymous said...

Forget academia. Try the monasteries if you are looking for a place that ought to be free of kleshik poisons, but in reality isn't.

My recommendation is to let the others have the victory and to accept defeat for oneself. If nothing else it will confuse the hell out of them.

elisa freschi said...

Hi Anonymous (why then?),

well, I guess monastries were also full of rivalries until they ended up being almost empty.
Thanks for the suggestions, sounds worth a try.
What does "kleshik" mean?

VS said...

Although belittling your efforts seems very smart at the first look, in reality, it helps neither the purpose of the person seeking a higher aim nor those who could be inspired by the efforts.

Those who are going to crib, will always find a reason to crib.

I would say that prudently if you shouldnt boast, then neither should you belittle.

elisa freschi said...

Thanks, VS. I still look for an advice about how to handle colleagues who might be jealous but are not aware of it.

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