11 August 2012

Oxford's professorship in education

In December I applied for a professorship in education offered by Oxford University. The text of the covering letter was reproduced here.

I was not even shortlisted for this post, despite the fact that Oxford seem to have had difficulty filling it, since they advertised the same post again in April.

I reapplied, and again was not even shortlisted.

I think – and my colleagues at Oxford Forum agree – that if Oxford was genuinely interested in making progress on topics coming under the rubric of ‘education’ then the individuals responsible for filling this post should at least wish to meet me to find out what ideas I have for research and what I might do if offered the position.

In fact of course, it is doubtful that such motivation exists in modern academia, at a level capable of having an impact on such decisions. Far more important seems to be that mechanical rules are observed (the candidate should have at least so many publications under their belt, they should have at least x years’ ‘experience’ at other institutions – regardless of whether they have actually contributed anything significant to the advancement of knowledge), and that appearances are satisfied (what will other institutions think; are we doing what is ‘normal’ in the academic profession).

So the system is successfully perpetuated: some kind of activity passing under the name ‘research’ is duly carried on by a large number of people, providing one another with spurious professional endorsement (‘what you are doing may validly be regarded as educational research, because everyone else “working” in the field would say so too’).

However, understanding of the underlying issues is not meaningfully advanced.

04 August 2012

Philosophy students and vacation workers

text of a reply to a university philosophical society

Dear ...

Thank you for inviting me to speak to the ... Society. I am afraid that I will not be able to come in the foreseeable future.

I am not a member of the ‘international academic community’ to which you refer, although I certainly should be. The rejection of hereditary ability is fundamental to communist or socialist ideology, and I have never been able to overcome the handicap imposed upon me by my ruined ‘education’. I have been, and am being, prevented from making major progress in many fields.

Opposition to us expresses itself in the fact that we do not have a single senior supporter, i.e. any person outside of here, preferably with some social status, prepared to put our case in fund-raising applications. It is actually impossible to gain any financial support without a representative. We do not have one, as the nominal supporters we once had (of which there were originally a great number) offered to resign as soon as they were asked to be active on our behalf, or to contribute money themselves.

Although social status is (or would be) preferable in a supporter, anything is better than nothing. You and your colleagues may well start to have some social status in a few years’ time. If we had one or more academic supporters we could, for example, make applications to overseas universities to set up overseas departments here, so that we could give seminars in vacations on political, social and ideological developments in this country.

We are now in the summer vacation, so why do not you and/or some of your colleagues come to stay in or near Cuddesdon for six or eight weeks? You would need to be prepared to help with whatever work is in progress here, to justify our spending time on putting you in the picture in various ways. And you would need to have bicycles and/or a car to travel into Cuddesdon, as you might not be able to rent rooms close enough to us for walking.

I have put this invitation in the plural, but when we meet new people it is best if they are on their own, as a companion will be sure to reinforce or remind them of elements in the modern outlook which are incompatible with ours.

Kind regards,

Any undergraduates or academics are invited to come to Cuddesdon in vacations as voluntary workers. They are expected to have enough money of their own to pay for accommodation near here, but would be able to use our canteen facilities. However, we cannot enter into correspondence about arrangements before they come. While here, they could gain information about topics and points of view suppressed in the modern world, as well as giving badly needed help to our organisation.