Accuracy in Academia?

One of the interesting things about fishing in unknown waters is that you never quite know what will come up when you reel in the line.

It has only been a few weeks since my first post here, but I am already getting intriguing responses. One on Tuesday follows my post with the tongue-in-cheek title Reminder to Self: Get Out More. It is called Ivory Tower Cabin Fever and comes from a blog that calls itself “Accuracy in Academia” (AIA). It starts off:

Apparently at least one denizen of the Ivory Tower thinks he’s been cloistered too long.

That’s… how should I say it?… inaccurate. As one who became a full-time academic in his fifties after an earlier life spanning a dozen states and five years living in Africa and Asia, ownership of a cafe and gift store, work in advertising, journalism, and even auto repair, I’m the last one to think that I’ve been cloistered, or even that I am now. I live in Brooklyn, for crying out loud!

More seriously, my point had to do with perception as much as with reality. The author of the blog post, Malcolm Kline, doesn’t see the dual focus of what I wrote, that I am warning us in academia not to let the walls around us define us as well as pointing out (as scholars have been doing for generations) that we need to always be aware that our activities belong in the world, not just in the academy.

I find from the AIA website that Kline, so concerned about academics, only looks in from outside. That is, he has never (according to his biography on the website) been an academic himself. So, as I’ve been outside enough, I’d like to invite him and any others who like to go on about the professors (I have even made this offer to David Horowitz) to come inside and observe my classes. We could even talk about that dreaded liberal bias!

Maybe we in academia should get out more, but those outside looking in might also want to step inside from time to time. Especially if they really want to know what goes on in our colleges and universities. Hearsay and blog posts are no substitute for actual experience.

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