I have a theory (surprise!) about traditional education. Academia is, contrary to popular opinion and its own self-image, always behind the curve. Because of the "accreditation" and "credentials" hang-ups, it's all-but-impossible for traditional universities to hire people who actually know something useful. So, by the time one of these institutions figures out that an industry has a need for qualified, trained, and skilled entry-level employees, the industry is practically historic and the need is long gone.
Here, for example, is a job posting for an instructor in a substantial state school:
Position: Assistant Professor of Music Technology (Tenure –Track)
Rate: Minimum Starting $46,400
faculty in this position must have a strong commitment to teaching
excellence, creative activity, scholarship, student advisement, and
university and community service.
DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES: Faculty contractual duties include, but are not limited to:
Teach a full load of Music courses equivalent to four courses (12
credit hours) per semester or eight (24 credit hours) per academic year;
Teach and /or oversee the teaching of music education courses such as
instrumental conducting, instrumental techniques, and music education
Provide leadership and recruitment of students who major in music technology, composition, and education;
Participate in professional music education organizations, fostering
relationships with local and state secondary school music programs;
Procure and maintain music technology equipment and software, musical instruments, and instrumental music library materials;
Observe Field Base Level III music students as they near graduation;
Direct student instrumental wind and jazz ensembles;
Instruct applied brass and/or bass in a variety of styles, including jazz;
May be assigned to teach evening and/or Saturday classes, courses via ITV, and/or develop and teach Desire to Learn courses;
May be assigned to supervise field experiences;
Develop and maintain collaborative and professional
partnerships/relationships with local schools and provide service at the
university, state, local and national levels;
Hold office hours as required;
Direct and/or supervise student research, independent study, field project, and thesis;
Serve on faculty or University committees;
Conduct scholarly activities such as research in a particular field of
knowledge and submit findings for publication and/or presentation at
Maintain regular attendance;
Perform other related duties as assigned.
EDUCATION: Doctorate in Music and/or Music Education
Five (5) years of teaching music technology and education courses,
conducting instrumental ensembles, and teaching applied instrumental and
In addition to the minimum qualifications, preference will be given to the following:
Demonstrated experience in composing and performing music for live
performances, recording, editing and producing recorded music using the
latest computer software programs
o Experience teaching digital audio recording, production, editing and notation software;
Demonstrated experience excelling as a team member with good
communication skills while maintaining personable relationships with
educators and students;
o Demonstrated experience in facilitating improvements in music curricula;
o Experience with event planning associated with music concert performances;
o Experience participating in recruiting events and public music performances.
KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES Skill and expertise in the classroom;
Ability in the use of technologies and/or strategies to enhance pedagogy;
Ability to work effectively with a culturally-diverse student body;
Ability to develop effective methodology for the integration of teaching and research;
Ability to demonstrate excellent communication skills;
Ability to teach undergraduate and graduate level courses;
Ability to supervise undergraduate and graduate student research.
this "instructor" is going to be useful to students as some sort of
credible resource, but how is that possible? What would someone with a "Doctorate in Music and/or Music Education" and "Five (5) years of teaching music technology and education courses . . . "
know that would be useful to a prospective professional recording
engineer or producer? The answer is obvious, isn't it? Not to academia.
lot of this comes from a wrong-headed delusion that is core to
academia: the disconnect between what students want and expect and what
educators imagine they want. Students have bought into the fantasy that "education is important." The kinds of numbers educators promote are based on some pretty sketchy numbers games. When students ask colleges to accept some of the risk, they get nothing but blank stares from those risk-adverse institutions. And for good reason, the connection between higher education and earnings are nebulous, at best.
A few years back, I read an article that claimed that if you remove the
"honorary" PhDs from the educated side of the ledger, the payback for
higher education falls to nearly non-existent. When the Steve Jobs, Mark
Zukerbers, George Soros, Richard Bransons, Bill Gates, Warren Buffetts,
Steve Woziniaks, and the rest of the incredibly rich honorary PhDs are
reduced to their dropout or BA status, it's possible to suspect that
spending a lot of time in class might be a mistake. In some professions,
So, my theory is "Any time you see a profession
that is academically represented by people who should be in the prime
of their careers, that profession is obsolete." It's also possible that
any profession that is thoroughly ensconced in academia is history.
while back, I got involved in a "discussion" on the AES Faculty Advisor
newsgroup after I'd recommended an excellent instructor who had
recently become "available for employment." When I mentioned that he had
everything going for him except a college degree, several of the
discussion participants chimed in that a recording engineering "terminal
degree" was absolutely necessary in their institutions. When I
suggested that educational paperwork was pretty much a non-issue in the
industry, one instructor replied with "Well, what we're selling students
is a degree, so I think it's pretty important from our standpoint." I
guess I was wrong. I always thought we were trying to teach kids how do
to useful work?