Mad as Hell
One of my all time favorite movie scenes features Peter Finch as the character Howard Beale in the 1976 film “Network.” (You can listen to the scene online at: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/MovieSpeeches/moviespeechnetwork2.html
and more about the film itself can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_(movie)
I like the scene because Finch expresses so well how I increasingly find myself feeling these days.
So what am I mad about? Lots of things about war, politics, the environment, and popular culture, but for the purposes of this blog, I am angry about the continuing dismal state of educational research, especially in the field known as “instructional technology” or “educational technology.”
I am a professor at a large research university (see http://www.uga.edu/
). Ever since I arrived here, my performance has largely been based upon the degree to which I have been successful in publishing articles in so-called refereed journal articles. Since I joined the UGA faculty in 1982, I have been successful enough to be awarded tenure and be promoted, first to Associate Professor, and later to Full Professor.
Increasingly, academics are being judged on their ability to attract outside funding, but refereed journal articles remain the primary currency of the realm at research universities such as mine. For example, my College of Education maintains a link on its web pages under the heading “UGA Ranked Nation's 2nd Most Prolific University In Education Research” at: http://www.coe.uga.edu/coenews/2002/ProlificResearch.html
What makes me so mad is that despite the success that my colleagues and I have enjoyed in publishing refereed journal articles, our state remains near the bottom of the rankings on virtually every indicator of educational attainment. Consider high school graduation rates in the USA. Georgia remains 49th out of 50 states with respect to the number of ninth graders who complete high school within four years (see: http://www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/shr2004/components/hsgrad.html
). Georgia was 49th when I came here in 1982, and it remains so. It is difficult not to conclude that all the refereed journals articles that academics at The University of Georgia and all the other 34 public universities and colleges in this state have published over the past quarter century have not made a bit of difference in helping the children of this state graduate from high school with any greater success than they would have without our academic “productivity.”
Well, right now I must stop writing my first entry in this blog. My annual faculty report for 2005 is due tomorrow. Having published 7 or 8 refereed journal articles and book chapters and attracted significant external funding this past year, I’ll probably get another great annual review. So why do I feel like such a failure?