LINGUIST List 6.1322

Wed Sep 27 1995

Disc: Teaching as a prestigious occupation?

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. Steven Schaufele, teaching as a prestigious occupation?

Message 1: teaching as a prestigious occupation?

Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 00:07:29 teaching as a prestigious occupation?
From: Steven Schaufele <>
Subject: teaching as a prestigious occupation?

A couple of weeks ago there was some discussion on the List about the
possible influence of Saussure on the development of Einstein's theory of
relativity. I admit that after the first couple of postings or so i
didn't pay much attention, but at one point during the discussion Roman
Jakobson was quoted fairly extensively, and one statement caught my eye.
Speaking of a possible vehicle for Sausure --> Einstein influence, a
friend/roomate? of Einstein's who was a student of Saussure's, Jakobson
said that, although the fellow was brilliant, his ideas were unfortunate-
ly too far in advance of his time, and so he lived out his days as a mere

Now, I realize that this is Jakobson's own view and that it is not neces-
sarily representative of the field or the profession. Nor am i at the
moment particularly concerned about the suggestion that obscurity is the
punishment for avant-garde views, though this is a question worth addres-
sing. What i am mostly concerned about right now is the suggestion that,
in and of itself, teaching is a disappointing, wasteful, or even disrepu-
table occupation for a gifted scholar. As it happens, there are some of
us (i am personally acquainted with at least one such person) who would
give almost anything for the opportunity to teach linguistics regularly.
I would like to know how prevalent in academia, and particularly in lin-
guistics and language departments, is the notion that teaching is an
onerous task whose practitioners would prefer to shun it, and that gifted
scholar/researchers are wasted on classes.

I'm not sure how best to handle a discussion on this topic: whether to
field comments sent to me privately and post a summary, or encourage some
open discussion on the List. Perhaps some people would prefer to express
their views privately to me, while others would rather go public on the
subject. I'm willing to play it by ear, but i do wonder very seriously
about the extent to which this attitude really exists not only among
scholars but among administrators as well.

- -------------------
Dr. Steven Schaufele
712 West Washington
Urbana, IL 61801

**** O syntagmata linguarum liberemini humanarum! ***
*** Nihil vestris privari nisi obicibus potestis! ***
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