Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Staying informed: a bridge too far

Naomi Schaefer Riley mentions Philip Nel's "what do professors do all day?" blog series in her recent Chronicle article. And again I ask myself: why do I ever read the Chronicle?
I am willing to believe that children’s literature is a legitimate field of study. But the idea that in order to teach Kansas State undergraduates about it effectively, one needs to “keep up with the literature” seems to me a bridge too far. And I bet you it’s a bridge too far for many state legislators as well.
Staying abreast of the field is "a bridge too far"? What?


Philip Nel said...

Thanks, Natalia. If you look at the comments section of Ms. Riley's blog post, you'll see your "WTF" comment echoed many times. A Mr. Luther Blissett responds, "Not only must he keep up with the scholarship on children's literature in order to make sure he's presenting valid ideas, he must keep up with it in order to produce his own scholarship, which is no doubt a condition for receiving tenure and promotions." Yes, indeed!

My general sense, though, is that despite the piece's tone (to say nothing of its condescension towards children's literature), Ms. Riley mostly concurs with conclusions I drew from the experiment -- professors do in fact put in long days. I'm pleased (even grateful) for the notice, and am happy that she's found some common ground -- especially given the differences in our ideological and professional backgrounds. After all, she's a conservative journalist, and I'm an academic who writes about radical children's literature. (In her March 9th post, she links to a WSJ article in which she outs herself as a conservative who has been funded by conservative think tanks.)

Anyhow. Thanks for the shout-out! Also, on a separate note: have you ever considered announcing new blog posts from your Twitter feed? When I remember to read your blog, I always enjoy it. (Or should I just grow up and use Google Reader -- or whatever one uses to keep track of blogs -- already?)

Natalia said...

Thanks for your comment, Phil. I'm sure all right-thinking people concur with my WTF response (and the condescension toward children's lit was distinctly there). The bigger question is why the Chronicle so frequently runs pieces that can do little more than provoke WTF responses.

As for RSS--in your backwardness you're ahead of the curve, since when Bloglines went down there were a number of "The End of RSS!" "RSS is being replaced by Twitter!" sorts of pieces. So I see your point.

But on the other hand, I have a Twitter widget on this blog, and while people who read the blog through RSS don't see the Twitter widget, people who relied on tweets to see my posts would have to click over and then they would see the tweet that had just gotten them there and it would all be way too meta. Which is a short way of saying: I'm too lazy. Also, it seems weird to self-tweet? I feel as though I need to save my Twitter capital for my very important snarky remarks. It's nice of you to suggest that you would read, though.

Philip Nel said...

Cool -- I'm so far behind the curve that I've come out ahead, eh? Well, that suits me.

And, I do read your blog, but this usually happens only every few weeks. My thought is that some sort of "new blog post" announcement would draw in more readers regularly (including me, of course). But, then, we may differ on how we conceive of Twitter. I think one function of Twitter is promoting one's work. No need to hide your light under a bushel (yes, there should be some more contemporary way of saying that). However, if you prefer things the way they are, then don't listen to me, of course! Carry on!