The Way We Train Ph.D.s Drapes A Large, Cold, Wet Blanket Over Our Ability to Innovate Higher Education Infrastructure
Expecting a group of highly educated, culturally fixed Ph.Ds who are excellent researchers to run their own operation may have been fine 80 years ago when educational operations were run, staffed, and filled with very select collegiums of mainly white men. Today, nimbleness in the back end infrastructure for most higher education operations seems to be stuck with the operating rubrics circa 1979. Shared governance is a long standing concept and working model, but the way we train Ph.D.s to be Ph.D.s is antithetical to generating the magical nexus and synergy between efficiency and effectiveness within the organization itself.
The process of training highly qualified researchers works. Ph.D.s have been generating new knowledge and inventing new technology, well, for a very long time. However, the indoctrination of Ph.Ds - training them to be skeptics as well as good methodological research hounds - disables our ability to advance the back-end infrastructure, and some front line practices (such as the common lecture format for delivery of education).
I've known and know many Ph.Ds. A high percentage of them couldn't manage their way out of a paper bag. Don't get me wrong. These are some fantastically smart individuals, but they lack the street smarts to innovate in a way that isn't staid and overly burdened with the rhetoric justified by the myriad overarching disciplinary requirements that are generally rigid, and designed to accept only rigorously researched, empirically based advancements.
Also, at the larger research institutions that constitute the majority of Ph.D.s benevolently delivered every graduation cycle, rarely provide examples of innovative teaching that could improve the pedagogy in a much swifter fashion. My alma mater is not excluded. While I did receive a fantastic education and great training in research methodologies, completely absent from my training was any experiential or experimental teaching. I was, effectively, left to my own devices.
- Long standing tradition of acculturation
- Years of disciplinary isomorphic practices
- Lack of any managerial training
- Lack of much teaching experience that involves true innovative teaching styles
- An unwillingness of the industry to practice what it researches
I've been mulling this particular barrier over for a great long while. It's not fully formed, but I know there is something to it. The bigger question is, am I the only one thinking this? Am I crazy for suggesting this? And lastly, what's the real solution, as I believe that this is the front-end cause to what's really wrong with higher education as well as most every other educational operation out there.