|Hell . . . Hell is for students|
Stanley Fish is on a roll, and MoneyLaw
is making the most of it. Having just posted Fish's observations on a new book
on academic freedom, I now have occasion to reprint the brilliant opening to Fish's latest column on this subject, The Two Languages of Academic Freedom
Last week we came to the section on academic freedom in my course on the law of higher education and I posed this hypothetical to the students: Suppose you were a member of a law firm or a mid-level executive in a corporation and you skipped meetings or came late, blew off assignments or altered them according to your whims, abused your colleagues and were habitually rude to clients. What would happen to you?
The chorus of answers cascaded immediately: “I’d be fired.” Now, I continued, imagine the same scenario and the same set of behaviors, but this time you’re a tenured professor in a North American university. What then?
I answered this one myself: “You’d be celebrated as a brave nonconformist, a tilter against orthodoxies, a pedagogical visionary and an exemplar of academic freedom.”
Lest Fish's sarcasm elude this audience — MoneyLaw
's readership is overwhelmingly academic, after all, and the members of our profession often have a hard time viewing themselves with honesty, let alone humor or humility — it's worth bearing in mind one judicial observation quoted with approval by Fish: “Academic freedom is not a doctrine to insulate a teacher from evaluation by the institution that employs him” (Carley v. Arizona