Monday, September 15, 2008

of nomads and reindeer

In terms of labels, being a professor of management can be tricky. The dilemma, simply put, is this: is my responsibility to teach (profess) how to manage or to teach how managers manage?

The question is weighty, not in small part because, though seemingly a philosophical point, it's one that directs very practical questions such as what I should talk about in class, what sort of assignments I should give, how I should grade those assignments, and, more generally, what does the curriculum of a business school actually look like.

Consider this piece in the Sept/Oct '08 issue of Orion, where Rebecca Solnit asks us to reflect on our servitude of the automobile, and our government's servidtude of the oil industry.

While Solnit's questions are profound in the context she defines, the article gives me pause as I (re)consider my role in the service of management (italicized to highlight its institutional status--the institution being whatever this thing is that I study and teach). Is my role as a professor of management to serve the institution--providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to play the game on the terms the institution has set--or is it to serve the interest of enlightenment--to explain, critique, and deconstruct the institution; to help students diagnose the unreality of the shadows on the wall?

On the one hand, I might reason that whether students know what they're getting into or not, they've made the choice to align themselves with the instutition, so my responsibility is to help them best survive in it.

On the other hand, there's this from Wendell Berry:

Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry subsidized research. its proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible.



In other news, time trials are boring.

Rode the masters state championship time trial on Saturday. Finished 4th in the 30+ with the 12th best time of the day (out of 63). That's not much to brag about, but I'm pleased that despite the Lyme Disease, despite not racing much this summer, despite a bazillion other excuses that riders both love to give (about themselves) and hate to hear (from others), I finished 45 seconds faster than I did on the same course two years ago (at the end of a very successful season).

But time trials are still boring...and I'm so excited for cyclocross. In cyclocross you can finish dead last and still have a lot of fun. In a time trial, no one has fun.


Finally (let's see how many I can offend here...), people who drive fancy trucks suck. (No, I couldn't be more absurdly general.) The whole truck-as-luxury-car thing I don't get. I don't want to get. And I don't want to be around people who do get.

Trucks are utility vehicles. If you're afraid to load the back of your pickup with a pile of cow manure then you shouldn't own a truck. And a corralary to this rule, if you don't regularly need to load the back of your pickup with a pile of cow manure (think of "cow manure" metaphorically), then you shouldn't buy a truck.

You also shouldn't care when a kid (not me, but I witnessed it) overcooks a turn on his bike and puts a ding in the side of your pickup. A real truck owner wouldn't notice the dent because the side of his truck is already littered with dents, or soon will be. A pansy truck owner gets out and, ignoring the bloody mass of kid on the assphalt, throws a fit over the damage to his "baby" and belows out such profundities as "who's going to pay for the damage?" in accusational tones.

Damage. Whatever. A real truck owner would appreciate the makeover for what it is: value-added.

So lame...

Pansy truck owners, I frown in your general direction.


Mckellers said...

So, congrats on riding well and it is certainly great to hear you are feeling well.

I am not sure if I am being frowned toward or not but i am very disappointed in where the truck industry has gone. Before leaving PA I sold my very reliable truck that I would have gladly allowed any kid to run into and bloody himself on.

That put me in the market for a truck here in TX. They don't make a truck anymore for what a truck should be made for. The most rediculous aspect being the price tag, new trucks can cost upwards of $60,000 absolute insanity, it is a truck, no truck should cost more than $10,000, I give you $15,000 for a diesel engine.

All I wanted was something that could safely, and reliably haul me and my dog ( who metaphorically qualifies as a load of cow manure )around. but some where along the way someone decided that trucks have to have leather interiors and all sorts of other absurd "upgrades" so that now you can't buy a truck for what it was meant for, at a price that does make you choose between the truck and your child's college education ( unless you are a professor and they get into college for free). Oh and 2wd trucks are dumb!

I am going to go check the paper, so I will get back to you on my opinions on professors and management.

goat said...

I am not frowning in your _specific_ direction (because your truck interests seem perfectly reasonable), but I can't say that I don't frown in your _general_ direction...because I know where you live...and there is a lot to frown about in your general direction.


k8 said...

re: luxury trucks, you and my father would get along quite nicely.