Is There a Doctor In the House?

Updated on December 19, 2020 in General Stuff
12 on December 18, 2020

Not to get all political here, but I really find the issue of Dr. Biden hilarious, particularly in light of the general light wieghtness of the entire Biden clan.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/12/jill-bidens-garbage-dissertation-explained/amp/

 
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0 on December 18, 2020

I downloaded the dissertation yesterday.

Embarassing.

And that’s fine, but insisting on an honorific based on weaksauce like that is silly.

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0 on December 18, 2020

To be fair, most Ed dissertations are tripe. We make fun of Ed Doctorates all the time. Hers appears to be about par for the, er, courses.

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0 on December 18, 2020

Trying to think of something that hasn’t already been said on this, it occurs to me that universities have become so expensive that perhaps they feel, without saying so out loud, a need for laxity. If they send candidates back and back and back for yet another re-write of a dissertation, the candidate may just give up. Post grad degrees are not a ticket to job security anyway.

My other thought is that, while my own post-grad degree is a “Juris Doctor,” my colleagues would laugh me out of the courthouse if I ever dared to call myself the D-word.

“Where do you guys want to go for lunch?”

“Well, I defer to the Doctor on that. What say you, Doc?”

Nightmare!

We are daily grinders — “ham and eggers,” as Rocky put it, not physicians and not even law professors. As for the “Esquire” that we are allowed (by custom) to append to our names in correspondence, I did that once or twice in the 80’s, right after graduation, and felt ridiculous. So I stopped.

I suspect that Mrs. Biden is privately telling her staff to stop using the honorific and let this issue die as quickly and as quietly as possible. I hope so.

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0 on December 18, 2020

A few general observations on this milieu:

It’s all one big circlejerk. 

The “Schools of Education” (and every university has one) are a great place to shuttle sub-standard, low-performing students who can’t handle the rigor of fields like science, engineering, or even accounting. And they are enormously profitable. Universities charge the same tuition for a three credit-hour course on “Modern laminating techniques” as they do a three credit hour course in Chemistry.

Those “Schools of Education” exist because they have been deputized by the state Departments of Education as the sole, monopolistic issuer of “credentials”. If you aspire to be a teacher, you are required by law to spend the money to get the credential.

Then it gets even more absurd. For public school teachers, there are three ways of getting a raise. Most school districts have annual cost of living increases. (Or at least semi-annual…those increases come and go a bit. They are frequent targets when budgets are tight.) Then there is longevity. Most districts have some manner of raises based on how long you’ve been teaching. 

Note that as an individual, you really have no control over either of those. They just happen because you are there.

The third is credentials. Most districts have a system where teachers get automatic raises if they get “advanced” degrees. The effect of that is that teachers, having been fleeced by the system in order to get their bachelor’s degree to get a foot in the door, claw their way back by getting “masters” degrees and the automatic raises those imply.

In Omaha, if you get a masters degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the pay-back time is about two years. After that, it’s pure gravy.

In recent years, those masters degrees are increasingly on-line affairs. Spend some number of months pretending to watch mind-numbingly boring lectures on-line, pass a few laughably stupid tests, and BINGO! You’re now a “Master of Education”. Submit your new credential to the school board, and the money flows right in.

The “Schools of Education” are therefore assured of a continued revenue stream of masters students.

The teachers get raises.

The School Board gets to brag about how great their teaching cohort is, with all their advanced degrees.

It’s all perfectly circular and perfectly air tight. Anyone who dares raise a hand and say “You know what? I don’t think any of this is necessary at all. In fact, I think it’s all a waste of time and money. And really, what actual evidence do we have that any of this is serving any measurable purpose or benefit?”…well, that person is accused of “not caring about education” and “not caring about the kids”, etc.

NYU professor Scott Galloway talked about COVID being the “long awaited fist of stone hurtling toward the chin that higher education has been sticking out for decades“, and I think he’s half right. College students (and their parents) are not going to be enthusiastic about spending enormous tuition $$$$ for a sub-standard, on-line experience. The other dimension that he didn’t discuss, however, is that we’re wrapping up a year where parents of elementary students are either (a) disgusted with the absurdity of trying to teach 3rd graders via Zoom or (b) realizing that home-schooling is a viable option.

All that comes on top of the emerging realization over the last 10 or 20 years that for a great number of students, the return on investment associated with a bachelor’s degree is negative.

All of which is to say, the circular, air-tight circlejerk of “BigEducation” is getting rocked in real time, right now.

Getting back to Jill Biden, you know you are “over the target” when (in response to the scathing WSJ oped that kicked this off) the response is “misogyny”. When they retreat into identity politics, you know you’ve got them.

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0 on December 18, 2020

Just got back from running some errands. While I was out, it occurred to me that this kerfuffle may very well be serving a positive purpose: Has there ever been a “doctoral” thesis in education more widely read?

Sunshine in this instance may be just what the doctor ordered.

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0 on December 18, 2020

There is literally *nothing* in your posts, above, that I disagree with. This is exactly how things are.

I don’t even think I can flesh it out, so I’ll just throw some random anecdotes out. #shitpostmafia

One, I have it on good authority that WSU—where I don’t work—just added an emergency grade related to COVID: students can take their choice of the assigned grade, or just take a no-credit, no point alt grade instead. This was in response to 38 percent of grades last semester being Fs, which was largely a result of students never logging in to their online chem lab, or whatever.

Students HATE online classes.

We had, HAD, past tense, a president at the state place where I actually do work who was pushing a plan last year to go 100percent online, but still requiring dorm living for the lower class students. With a straight face, it was claimed that “students like online, and will still want to live on campus to take advantage of the social aspects of campus life.”

Of course, all of us with any real contact hours in the classroom looked at this president as if they had all the dicks at once growing out of their forehead, Medusa-style, only worse.

It didn’t work out well.

Here’s one for y’all: probably the top factory in the USA for turning out music ed DMA degrees is Florida state. So, the guy who oversaw the program (up to and including music school dean) got a term as the president of NASM—the accreditation agency for music schools at the university level—in roughly 2010 or so. To the surprise of nobody, out comes this mandate that a new requirement for NASM accreditation is [i]having a Doctorate in Music Ed[/i] on the faculty.  This, among other things, led to the blackmailing of the department that I do work for over the accreditation, which led to one of the bigger scandals at the school, with lawsuits, title ix investigations, lots of firings, sexual predation and a wholesale collapse of enrollment numbers in the department to half of what it had been just three years before the forced hire, but I digress.

Point being, “circle jerk” doesn’t even begin to cover the open malfeasance. JMO.

Pro tip: if a president of NASM or NAfME or BITEME or whatever states in publicity materials/interviews how much they enjoy teaching “modern band” (rock/pop) and “guitar class” and a cursory review of their resume shows undergrad and grad degrees in winds or brass, an Ed or Theory doctorate, and mostly admin work at the level of dean, they’re bullshitting for an audience. Complete propaganda; the actual guitar jocks are not becoming deans and NASM presidents. It’s all unmitigated horseshit.

Lastly, one of the finest young players I know—who will remain nameless, but who has youtube views in the millions, and a dad who was a regular over at the old, departed original AG mag forum—once told me, and I’m paraphrasing, but only minutely: I hated getting a masters. I hated the classes, I hated the teachers, and I hated the whole thing. There were no redeeming features to any of it.” When I asked “why” the response was “it was free, and I loved my lessons.” But I hated the rest, and I’m very glad to be done.

Total racket.  

I guess the only other thing that I’ll add is that I don’t have an advanced degree. This may well make me biased and color my view; I freely admit this. I will also note, however, that when it is time to record a teaching demo video for recruitment, or play the big, blockbuster gala concert for the opening of a +/- 40million dollar new hall on campus, or find someone to play a dinner for the top 100 donors to more than one university, I always seem to get the call before the freshly minted masters and DMAs. Imagine that. And it’s not because I am any Yo-Yo Ma; it’s because there aren’t any significantly better options. The handful of people who can actually produce are typically right there with me, again.

 

Like I say, shitposting, but there it is.

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1 on December 18, 2020

Lydia’s boyfriend (Lydia being my youngest, who graduated HS last year) fancies himself a guitar player.

And he’s not half bad. But I’m afraid he doesn’t have a realistic self-opinion of his level of talent.

Case in point: Last week, he went through his (online, natch) audition for the Berklee College of Music. Apparently it did not go particularly well. 

Alas.

Talking with him, I have a theory: He’s actually quite insecure about his talent level, but I don’t think he is self-aware enough to put it in those terms. I would say things to him like “Get some guys together, spend a few months in the basement working up some material, don’t be afraid to completely suck, get your act together, then go claw your way around town and find some gigs”.

(Setting aside how most of the live venues are Covid’d down right now…Omaha has a bunch of places looking for bands to book.)

Anyway, he pushed back on that. The more we talked, the more I realized that for him, getting into Berklee doesn’t represent an opportunity to learn and expand his skill set. Nothing like that.

It represents a short cut.

Instead of spending years grinding and refining your skills and building an audience, in one stroke he will have instant validation. “I’m good because Berk-f’ing-lee says so!”

And the sad thing is, there is a market for that. There is a market for taking young, mediocre players, telling them they are wonderful, bestowing credentials on them, then sending them out to be mediocre. And because there is a market for it, there always will be plenty of it.

******

I can’t help but think of an old friend named Terry right now. Rough guy. Raging alcoholic. Life in a perpetual state of couch surfing chaos. (He got two days out of me before Angie kicked him out.) Laid carpet for a living, when he was sober enough to find work.

But that guy could play.

One of my fondest memories is from about 10 or so years ago. It was Rick’s birthday. Rick was a drummer. He wanted to pull an impromptu band together and play a few sets at a local dive bar he frequented. 

So it was Rick on drums, GK on bass, Terry on lead, and me on vocals. We all knew each other, and had played in various bands over the years, but this was our first time together.

Closed our first set with “Runnin’ Down a Dream”. I’m getting chills right this moment thinking about how Terry absolutely slayed the solo at the end of that song. Just unbelievable. GK and Rick and I kept looking at each other, and we kept signaling to go around again. Terry wasn’t done yet. He was lost in a different place. It was just magic. He had everything. He was fast. He was melodious. He was original. It all came pouring out.

Eventually, he got there, looked over at Rick, and we got out of it. 

Point being, Terry never took a lesson in his life. The only formal knowledge he had was what he picked up along the way, mostly (given the era) from books.

I hope I don’t come across as “anti education”. Not at all. I’m more “anti credentialism”. I’d put Terry on that night up against the best that ever came out of Berklee.

*****

Just as soon as I wrote that, it occurred to me that I was substantially repeating the exact point that Branford Marsalis made over a decade ago. He nailed it:

on December 19, 2020

“Anyway, he pushed back on that. The more we talked, the more I realized that for him, getting into Berklee doesn’t represent an opportunity to learn and expand his skill set. Nothing like that.

It represents a short cut.

Instead of spending years grinding and refining your skills and building an audience, in one stroke he will have instant validation. “I’m good because Berk-f’ing-lee says so!”

This is extremely common. At the state place, I’d say that the mix between students who really wanted to get better, and the students who just want a sticker/cert, like they’re an organic banana, is about 60/40.

I have kicked maybe a half-dozen of the worst rubber stampers out of my studio (even the cert seekers typically still like guitar, in a casual way). I used to get shit for it, over the obvious retention issues, but I always got my way because I won’t actually jettison a student unless they are a *complete* screw off, and that level of student always creates a mountain of their own documentation.

What happens to those students is that the department always finds a way to get them a generic BA. They all graduate. And that, so far, is the last I hear of them.

Incidentally, the real roadblock to a BM in performance isn’t the coursework: it’s the recital requirements, junior and senior. You can’t outsmart, fake, or otherwise sneak past the recitals. I’ve seen a lot of students get through all the coursework, and bog down because they can’t play. So there is that.

But everybody graduates. Even the guy who caused a lockdown and SWAT roll-out still graduated, albeit several years late, due to being expelled for a few years.

 

 

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0 on December 19, 2020

I’ve had a long and tedious relationship with education and it’s relationship to work and music.

I graduated high school and went to community college right away because, well, Dad was paying for it and at that point it was sufficiently cheap to not really be an issue. And as the oldest child I actually gunned through an Associates and a Bachelors in 7 years, then a record for anyone in my family including good, old Dad. My record stood until my daughter killed her BAin an actual 4 years.

So I started looking to be a Civil Engineer but the lack of females in engineering caused me to change my focus to Education. Then, 6 years in I gave up and decided to quit. My Dad sat me down at Wendy’s for lunch one afternoon and told me not to make that mistake, just choose something and get the damn degree. You’ll have a credential that can never be taken away. Ever.

So I sat down with the college catalog and chose English Literature as my major and math and physics as my minors. Not having any English credits up until that point, the last year consisted of 8 English classes, one math class, and one physics class that I barely survived (funny story for another rant). At one point I briefly entertained including music in the degree but it quickly became apparent that the only thing that a music degree is good for is teaching music in elementary and high school. Period.

So then I took my English degree an started writing automotive service manuals. Which led to programming engine controls (as an engineer coincidentally). And then in the mid-90’s I took advantage of Ford Motor Company’s largesse and got an MBA which it turns out is functionally useless to the point that I rarely cop to it except as a line on a resume (from Michigan no less).

At one point when I was between gigs as an engineer I looked at what I would need to do to teach high school. Seemed like a good idea. Certainly easier than flying to Europe for weeks at a time or pulling the night shift in a dynamometr lab. And some of the districts out here paid pretty close to what I was making anyways and I was qualified in Math, Physics, English, and Business which is probably 75% of any ciriculum. And I’ve taught in college and substituted in my kid’s schools. What could go wrong?

Well, since I’d never taught in high school as an actual teacher, just a sub, I had to start at the beginning. Zero seniority. Zero credited experience. Wet behind the ears. Roughly 40% of the salary that a teacher with my years in the system would be paid.

And I’d have to take about 6 months of classes on my own ($5000) dime.

And then I’d have to student teach for a year before I got paid.

Seriously.

But back to music, one of the reasons I was going to quit in year 6 was I’d fallen in with a bunch of studio guys and was working in the burgeoning commercial music and recording scene around Detroit, studying with the top session player in the city at the time and apprenticing under one of the best recording engineers (last I heard he’s still working- in Nashville) in the city at one of the many sucessful commercial studios at the time. It was pre digital revolution. Digital 2-track tape machines cost $100,000 and Synclavier synths took up a literal wall of hard drives, and the studio I worked at had both. A commercial or an industrial film sound track involved between 5 and 30 union paid professional musicians and arrangers, etc. The guy I studied with pulled down $65K yearly- pretty good for 1984.

And none of them had music degrees. More than a few didn’t have high school degrees. They got there by playing, often making thier professional debut at 14 or 15.

Ultimately I came to realize that I was just never going to be that motivated. Or that good. And besides, eating and being able to feed a family has its advantages too so I quit.

Coincidentally I’ve had a blast with my little amatuer career. And played Carnegie Hall. And the Birchmere. And opened for Don Mclean, Dave Mason, the Seldom Scene, and others. And shaken George Bush’s hand on the White House lawn (no, it has nothing to do with music, it’s just cooler than shit).

With nary a music degree. Or a student loan to pay for that worthless piece of crap.

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0 on December 19, 2020

Ok, the followup here is truly hilarious.

First, I’ll be damned if Lydia’s boyfriend, Cooper, didn’t get accepted! How about that! Good job, Cooper!

But here’s the funny part. He spent 24 hours on cloud-9. He was really feeling good about himself.

But then a crushing development: Another classmate of theirs also got accepted. And it turns out Cooper doesn’t think the other guy has any chops at all. 

So just that fast, Cooper went from “I’m totally da bomb because I got into Berklee” to “Crap! They’ll let any idiot into that place!”

External validation is a roller-coaster ride.

 

 

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0 on December 19, 2020

So, did you mention to him that John Mayer is a Berklee drop out?

Technically I am, too (started an online program with them that I quit when money got tight).

Or is that just cruel?

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