Mary Beard (one of my twitter followers, yay) has a very good piece in the TLS.
The 2010s have been the last full decade in my career as a university teacher – one that, by the time I retire in 2022, will have spanned almost forty-five years. For most us in the profession, these ten years have been marked by discontent and underfunding, by the erosion of a proper career structure for many young academics, by needless attacks on the established pension scheme, and by conflicts over what students should pay for their education, when and how. I am writing just as eight days of strikes in many UK universities are ending, called in response to some of these issues.
It looks different to those outside of the profession, who over the decade have been much more preoccupied with questions of trigger warnings, student snowflakes and no-platforming. There is nothing like the issue of free speech on campus (or the supposed lack of it) to enrage people who have hardly set foot on a campus in years. They have a point, but it is not as big as they like to imagine. There have been, it is true, a few examples of what do look rather like kangaroo courts conducted by universities, to investigate or discipline academics with unfashionable and, to some, offensive views. University teachers can be as vicious as anyone else in using social media to call out non-conformity among their colleagues. And I for one can find sporadic demands for trigger warnings irritating (no, it is not possible to make sense of early Rome without the stories of violence against women …). But, in truth, I do not think these demands are any more irritating than those I myself made as a student for anonymous questionnaires to be distributed at lectures so that we recipients could have our own say on the quality of teaching offered to us. Each generation has its own campaigns.
Go read the rest.