42

As a PhD student and a post-doc, I always liked being a TA, and I always considered teaching as a natural duty for grad students and faculty. In the end, universities are and should be mainly about transmitting knowledge to students. Sometimes, I even enjoyed grading and proctoring because it would give me a short break from a highly creative job (research) to a mechanical one, where I could partially switch my brain off.

While a minority of my colleagues would enjoy teaching as much as I did, the large majority would endlessly complain about their teaching duties, and boringly compare their teaching load to the lighter one that colleague X or Y got assigned by the department, shouting to the world how unfair that was.

I never understood why this is the case. In particular, I have two questions:

  1. How can someone end up working in academia, if teaching is such a burden?
  2. Why do people in academia (from grad student upwards) complain so much about their teaching load, often comparing it to that of their colleagues?
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  • 65
    "In the end, universities are and should be mainly about transmitting knowledge to students." No. That is one mission of universities. Another one is to expand our knowledge through research. The two missions come into conflict because there is a limited amount of resources (most pertinently here, faculty time). Many academics are simply more interested in research than in teaching, hence the complaints. Dec 13, 2022 at 8:52
  • 1
    Reading this post I can't help but share this article: "Graduate Students' Teaching Experiences Improve Their Methodological Research Skills" jstor.org/stable/27978499 Indeed, though it may be true that research and teaching take away from each other, they also compliment each other. Dec 14, 2022 at 7:08
  • 2
    I think it depends on the person, I am a PhD student as well and find teaching to be an annoying waste of time which breaks the day up when that day could be (and you could argue) should be dedicated to research and thinking about research problems.
    – Tom
    Dec 14, 2022 at 10:28
  • 1
    I wasn't bothered with teaching, I did a bit and then chose not to do any more.
    – Tom
    Dec 14, 2022 at 13:20
  • 11
    Why do <people> complain about <part of their job>? Dec 14, 2022 at 15:33

13 Answers 13

95

I'd start by considering that people complain about everything, especially to potentially sympathetic ears. When I was a line cook, I complained about cooking, as did all of my coworkers. My friends in software jobs complain about writing software, meetings about software, etc.

Similarly, academics will complain about the other parts of their work as well on the research and service sides (publishing and journals, peer review of their work, peer review of others work, grants, too many or not enough students, university administration, committees, etc).

While I agree with you that teaching is an important part of academia, it's often a forced/obligated part from the perspective of a professor's job. There simply aren't many jobs that are "research-only", so everyone who is in academia primarily to do research experiences teaching as an additional obligation. Even if they do actually enjoy teaching, it's still perceived and treated as an additional burden. Instructors may have a big influence on their individual students, but at top research institutions teaching doesn't typically get much "credit" in terms of hiring/promotion besides as a "checkmark", and doesn't have much influence in perception outside the institution. The most famous/influential/honored professors are labeled as such by their research output, not their teaching, and time spent teaching is time spent not researching.

If you put a child's favorite entree next to their favorite dessert, and instruct that they need to finish the entree in order to get the dessert, you're setting up a natural hierarchy that makes eating the entree a chore, even if it would be thoroughly enjoyed in another context.

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    Entering an industrial research department from academia (same country), the most refreshing change was that people complain way less than in academia. There's a bit of complaining (management, food at the canteen, colleagues), but that's very mild and almost never public. I have the feeling that nobody wants to be perceived as the person who complains, as it is a rather toxic attitude to have on a workplace, which may lead to less promotions and a general perception of being less trustworthy. I think there's something special about complaining in academia.
    – G. Gare
    Dec 13, 2022 at 6:39
  • 49
    "I'd start by considering that people complain about everything" I have a complaint about this absolutely true statement. Dec 13, 2022 at 10:01
  • 8
    @G.Gare My personal experience is that people in industry complain as much if not more than people in academia, but that's based on the sample of my specific friends and family. If you've found a place to work where there is little reason to complain, then it sounds like you've found a good fit! :) I think one special thing about complaining in academia is there's often no other option - in industry, most skilled workers can find another job and quit their previous one if they're unhappy. In academia, switching jobs is not trivial, so the balance may shift to improving the job you have.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 13, 2022 at 15:44
  • 1
    I know some academics who are there to teach and complain about being forced to write papers, but even they complain about teaching. In some cases, they complain about having too light a teaching load if they fall below the full time pay threshold. Dec 13, 2022 at 20:34
  • 5
    There is also the disappointment of learning that most "teaching" time is not actually spent in front of students but preparing material, exam questions etc.. And making tough decisions about what to teach. This time is not so enjoyable, and under big pressure from other tasks. If you can't justify spending more time preparing than lecturing, and end up in front of students less-prepared then you wish you were, that can really take the fun out. A well-prepared and well-delivered lecture/lesson, though, is an amazing thing, especially if you notice the students like it, too.
    – Zak
    Dec 15, 2022 at 1:39
31

This will depend on the institution, country, etc. But at many/most research-intensive universities career progression is largely dependent on research productivity (grants, papers, etc). Teaching takes (a lot of) time away from research and since it is largely not used for promotion decisions is often seen as wasted time.

I enjoy teaching but I also want to keep my job and advance my career. It's a difficult balance and I found that I must carefully defend my research time lest teaching and administration completely take over. It is very easy to be envious of a colleague who has managed to get themselves a lighter teaching load (sometimes by being intentionally bad at teaching) who gets promoted more quickly than those who deliver a great learning experience for their students at the expense of their own research.

This is obviously a huge generalisation. There will be academics who are great at both teaching and research, institutions that do reward teaching, etc. However, this is essentially the way teaching has been viewed from my experience in academia.

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    "who has managed to get themselves a lighter teaching load (sometimes by being intentionally bad at teaching)" ... does this make the case for a separation of careers (people who are predominantly researchers or teachers) being needed in academia?
    – G. Gare
    Dec 13, 2022 at 8:02
  • 2
    @G.Gare: such a separation already exists. There are places where you can focus almost exclusively on research, and possibly "teach" some Ph.D. students, or give some graduate classes. There are institutions that focus much more on teaching and have much lower expectations as to your research output. And places in between, where you might get higher or lower teaching loads, depending on your role, grants and other responsibilities In the German system, these would correspond to the Max Planck Institutes, the Fachhochschulen and the universities, respectively. Dec 13, 2022 at 8:59
  • 1
    True! In Switzerland you may think of the PSI or the ENPA, the Fachhochschulen, the cantonal and the federal (ETH and EPFL) universities. In France, you have the INRIA, the CEA, or the CNRF that are purely research institutes (even though researchers often teach at neighboring or hosting unis). In Switzerland a research position at a university (involving teaching) is often perceived as more prestigious than a research-only position, though. Would it be the case in other countries, too? If yes, why?
    – G. Gare
    Dec 13, 2022 at 9:20
  • 2
    @G.Gare On the other side of the coin, there are primarily teaching positions (even at primarily research universities), but they often do not have the respect (among the other faculty in the US at least) and advancement that they quite frankly deserve. If you're looking at public university salary data, these positions are usually named "Lecturer."
    – ttbek
    Dec 13, 2022 at 12:25
  • 5
    In my university we would even have "Teachers", who are contractors hired to teach basic classes as calculus, linear algebra, etc. Unsurprisingly, their ratings were very high (given by students) and their students performed at least as well as students who were taught by chaired professors (when given the same exam).
    – G. Gare
    Dec 13, 2022 at 12:28
26

I agree with Bryan's observation that people have a tendency to vent about their work to sympathetic ears, even if they are complaining about fundamental aspects of their work. Nevertheless, there are some understandable reasons why academics tend to complain more about teaching than about research:

  • Time on teaching has an opportunity cost that impacts research (and career advancement): Career advancement in academia is still primarily determined by research output, so time spent on teaching detracts from time available to pursue the research that will drive your career in the long-term. This is one of the primary reasons that academics complain about high teaching loads or inequity in the allocation of teaching loads across their school. Many universities are taking action to allow career advancement within a "teaching stream" but it is still easier to advance your career with research success. For those academics who are interested in climbing the professorial ladder, time spent teaching may be suboptimal and therefore excess time on this may induce complaints.

  • Teaching the same topic repeatedly can become less interesting over time: This is not always the case, and it can even go the other way, but sometimes repetition of teaching the same topic over a long period of time (e.g., decades) can cause some ennui, even for academics who are passionate about their subject. Students tend to make the same types of errors again and again over different student cohorts, so much of teaching work is repetitive. (There are only so many times you can correct elementary calculus errors by students before some of the gloss wears off that activity, and similarly for most academic topics.) Academics sometimes move around courses to add some variation to their teaching, but even with this variation, teaching in a field over a long period of time can become less interesting over time.

  • "These young people are strange and scary to me": Professors age, but their student cohorts stay the same age. As this age gap widens, the academic has less in common with his/her students, will (correctly) view them as more immature/child-like, and will be more removed from their culture, habits, ways of talking, thinking, acting, etc. In particular, younger students may have ways of behaving, thinking or talking that are off-putting or even irritating to some older academics, or which cause them to despair for the future of the human race. This can cause academics to find teaching less enjoyable as they get older, and it may also be a contributor to greater focus on research.

3
  • 3
    I was about to make a comment about the Simpsons "It" speech. But then I noticed there was a mysterious link in your post...
    – DKNguyen
    Dec 13, 2022 at 5:27
  • 4
    The third point you make is really valid and does not only apply to older faculty members. I've seen 25 years old grad students complain about how the 19-year-old next-generation of students have changed with respect the "good old times"... to be honest, I've done it myself :) The pandemics has changed very rapidly how students behave though, at least that's what I felt.
    – G. Gare
    Dec 13, 2022 at 6:32
  • 3
    Plus one for this from me, especially the last paragraph. One of my personal sayings: "Kids these days." Unfortunately for me, kids these days includes people into their 40's. :p
    – CGCampbell
    Dec 14, 2022 at 13:54
14
  1. Many academics do not have much time to spend on research. As a PhD student or post-doc, your primary duty is research. In our case, we would like a 'break' from teaching and governance so that we can get back to our research.

  2. In many universities, teaching is not valued as much as research. At my university, even if you teach well, it is very difficult to gain promotion to a high level.

2
  • Teaching gives you zero notoriety. It only works backwards: like being able to say you attended a lecture by Carl Sagan. Who is notorious not because of his teaching, but his (actual) work on Voyager and of course, Cosmos. Surely, it's more fun to decide what goes on a Golden Record than to teach some 19yo's something from 100y ago. But it looked like he was having a pretty good time showing 9yo's pictures of space though. And that's why my mom never taught above 7th grade; it's a lost cause after that, with ever quickly diminishing returns.
    – Mazura
    Dec 14, 2022 at 5:30
  • @Mazura Or Feynman.
    – DKNguyen
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:35
11

Complaining can be tactical

As many excellent answers above have noted, teaching, while it may be great, funds the institution, and is one of the vital goals of university existence, rarely helps with promotion, as opposed to research, which does. As a purely self interested lecturer, therefore, your goal is to do as much research and as little teaching as possible.

However, job assignments in academia are extremely arbitrary. Heads of department often divide up teaching load, and often have to ask staff to take on more teaching than they'd ideally be allocated. There's a huge disparity between teaching needed, and teaching that staff are willing to take on.

It therefore makes sense to, at all times, seem horrifyingly overworked. If you seem like your teaching load is fine (or, in many places I've worked, not literally killing you), you will be given more teaching. This hurts your research time. Academics that are good at managing this split get promoted, and so tend to be around for a while, still complaining about their teaching load, as a kind of pre-emptive defence at being given more of it.

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  • 2
    That's brutally true and toxic
    – G. Gare
    Dec 13, 2022 at 16:13
  • 3
    @G.Gare it gets even worse when you realize that there's a great burden to seem competent and organized on women and minorities, so the amount of "complaining about overwork" they can do is much lower. Super messy, terrible incentive structure
    – lupe
    Dec 13, 2022 at 18:31
7

As you say, complaining about teaching can be quite off-putting. But why do people do it? I have two short answers: incentives are not aligned, looking for a connection with others.

Promotion, school rank, and influence depend heavily on research. Teaching, while deeply satisfying and beneficial in a number of ways, typically does not lead to promotions. It also is important to being hired. For an anecdotal example, this new PhD received 6x the clicks on their research than their teaching page. There's no doubt some self-selection going on but it is illustrative.

As a result, Professors sometimes see teaching as something that inhibits their personal progress and career. There are great complementarities, however. Communication skills are critical for researchers, and repeated teaching of the same material gives new understanding.

On the other hand, sometimes this is a common way of 'talking shop', some people are just looking to connect through complaining. This is perhaps a human instinct, but certainly not best practice.

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  • 2
    I agree 100% with the "connect through complaining" bit.
    – G. Gare
    Dec 13, 2022 at 8:03
  • 1
    Wow, 6x... I would have expected students swarming the teaching page. Oh, I see, applying for jobs, that's a different case indeed.
    – ttbek
    Dec 13, 2022 at 12:41
6

Often teaching loads are way too high given the time allocated, and no matter how much you enjoy teaching and associated work (prep, grading, student support etc) you don't want to it to be eating into your home and family life.

So it's natural to complain when you see others being asked to do less than you. Also the more teaching you get the less well you will do any of it, and academics are kind of perfectionist as a rule.

Making fair workloads was one of the most difficult things I had to do as a senior academic, and you quickly realise when you start to add it all up that most of your staff are being asked to teach way more than they should be given all of the other activities that they are also judged on.

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    This. I love preparing good teaching materials. I love trying to figure out ways in which I can explain complex concepts simply, intuitively and efficiently. But I find that, if I want to prepare a lecture on a new topic with custom illustrations/animation that indeed showcases the intuition behind it, I need anywhere upwards of 3 full working days to prepare a 2h slide deck from scratch. However, my University actually allocates 1h30mins prep time for every hour of lectures. And what I could produce in 1h30mins would not be simple or intuitive.
    – penelope
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:29
  • 1
    Of course, if I am reusing my materials from last year, 3h prep time is kinda just about enough to update my 2h lecture If, like this year, I'm delivering a mixture of pre-prepared a new materials, I'm finding that I'm sacrificing my "update time" to prepare new slides for different modules. Hopefully, next year, I'll be able to spend my time updating and improving my slides (and doing some research, as currently my evenings and weekends are all taken up by lecture prep).
    – penelope
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:32
6

I will briefly give my two cents, as a person that actually likes teaching but complains a lot about it.

The reasons I complain are:

  • Overloaded with teaching. My time should be split (according to my contract) 50-50 on teaching-research. Unfortunately, I find that I have to spend way more time on teaching/preparing new courses that the department randomly assigns to me.
  • Teaching things that do not interest me. This goes without saying. Unfortunately, only few of us can teach what they really like. Most of the time, we tend to fill in holes that someone else left behind. Imagine if you are a number theorist and they ask you to teach continuous optimization on a business department.
  • Teaching on the wrong level. Most people would prefer to teach something close to their expertise and this means naturally more advanced courses suitable for upper undergraduate/graduate level. Unfortunately, I will not get a lot of satisfaction if I am assigned to teach Calculus to 1st semester students.
  • Teaching the same thing over and over. While for specialized courses close to your expertise it is easy to update them to include new material, not much can be changed in, for example, Calculus. The material and the way of teaching is pretty much the same and very likely to continue be so.
  • Not interesting audience. It is different to teach calculus to math students and different to liberal arts students.
  • Also, a valid concern is that indeed some people do get much better teaching schedule and that is a fact. You may ignore it, but it is also easy to invoke some envy feelings that lower your enthusiasm.

Maybe I am forgetting something here, but you get the idea. Enjoying teaching does come with conditions.

3

Others have pointed out that since the 1980s promotion within academia is largely about research output (and not necessarily quality output, sadly) and consultancy income rather than curriculum development or teaching excellence. This is even more the case in the science, technology, engineering & medicine departments due to the high laboratory overhead costs.

To this background I would add that the traditional synergy between teaching, which is essentially interacting perspectives on a subject with younger minds, and research - that is basic research (hitherto unexplored empirical investigation) or fundamental (rational reasoning from a priori laws of science) research but not applied research - seems to have been blown aside in the urgency to get academic budgets balanced from year to year.

A STEM department's budget demands so much external funding and that can only come from committing to research programmes overwhelmingly funded by state funded research councils and large corporations. The politicians want to see "results" for their expenditure lest the media echo public concern about neglect of spending on public health, primary and secondary education, housing, etc. The corporate executives want to obtain technological advantage so they enjoy sustained profits into the future. So academics end up doing research that is more obligatatory and less personally interesting with less time to complete the work. Their teaching hours are shoe-horned into a tight schedule. They are human enough to feel this is wrong on students but have to be careful what they complain about: orthodoxy to the university agenda counts for a lot in academic promotion.

That is the conundrum of STEM academia today.

I have no solution to offer on this budget-induced conundrum. But as to your own individual situation and its demoralizing effect on you, I would suggest that if you want to stay in academia it might be wiser to look at working in a liberal arts type college rather than a large university - and certainly not a "research-led" university. I feel that the human relations priority of many of these liberal arts colleges would tend to support a reset towards the mutually inspiring teaching/research relationship that you (and many more) seek. It might also yield a return to consultancy coming to the academic (e.g. the office phone ringing) rather than he/she actively hustling for it.

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  • 3
    I thought the "M" in "STEM" stood for "Mathematics" rather than "Medicine". Point taken though regarding lab costs.
    – J W
    Dec 13, 2022 at 15:11
  • 2
    @JW it is mathematatics, not medicine. You're correct.
    – Tony Ennis
    Dec 13, 2022 at 15:21
  • 2
    I have seen it where M refers to medicine but in general it seems you are right. Math department overheads are so much less and they should theoretically be freer to choose their research topic.
    – Trunk
    Dec 13, 2022 at 15:49
3

This answer will be STEM related.

In STEM, at least in my experience, all most all time prior to being a faculty member is spent doing research: I had never stood in front of a class of students until I was appointed to a faculty position. Thus, the people who make it through the hard years of PhD and postdoc are those that are committed to their research. But by the end of their time as a postdoc, the only option to stay in the research world is to get a faculty job.

Most enter a faculty job thinking that they will continue to do research, and spend a little time teaching the occasional class. They are initially excited about this, as they see the nobility in teaching the next generation.

But it turns out that most people at a faculty level are given teaching responsibilities that would require full-time work to do well. But they must also be successful at research to make tenure/get promoted/keep their team employed.

They are effectively expected to do two full time jobs. One of which they have spent 15 years training for and already know they love and the other which they may feel is important, but have zero training or experience in.Nobody tells them which bits of research they should or shouldn't be doing, where as the teaching is dictated and micromanaged. Given this is unsurprising that many come to dislike the teaching. Everyone likes to be good at the things they do, but being good at teaching takes a lot of time, time which they may feel they owe to their research (and in particular, their research team, who depends on the lab's success for their livelihood). And even then on the probabilities, they are unlikely to be as good at teaching as they are at research.To add insult to injury, university administration often tells them that something that a teaching load that is taking them 40-50 hours a week should only be taking them 20 hours.

I don't mind the actual hours with students, and I tend to think that if teaching was the only thing I had to do, I might actaully enjoy it (although probably not as much as research).

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    As a mathematician: I stood in front of a class of students as a grad student. PhD years were not that hard after all. There exist research institute that do not have students. Most professors I know still mostly do research - and complain about that 20/30% of the time they have to devote to teaching.
    – G. Gare
    Dec 15, 2022 at 17:06
  • 1
    Different fields I guess. I was in the lab 9 hours a day as a PhD student, and was not even at a place that had taught students. Now I'm faculty, I spend more like 60% of my contracted time on teaching related tasks (research happens in my non-contracted, non-paid hours). Where I am now, the students would riot if we tried to get them to accept PhD students as teachers. Dec 15, 2022 at 17:13
  • Agree. I think the situation is exacerbated by the way teaching happens in 1-2 hour chunks scattered through the week, making it difficult to focus on other things; by the large amounts of generally-unrewarding administrative overhead to the actual teaching: assessments, marking etc; and by bureaucratic constraints that tend to make it place barriers in the way of dynamic and innovative teaching (e.g. deadlines for setting exam papers that are before the teaching has even started!).
    – avid
    Dec 15, 2022 at 17:39
  • 1
    In STEM, my experience is different. I stood in front of students since I was a PhD student, and even before as a TA. And I certainly give my PhD students the opportunity to have at least some teaching experience in electronic labs.
    – Massimo Ortolano
    Dec 16, 2022 at 19:12
0

I'll answer both questions, through my own context.

  1. How can someone end up working in academia, if teaching is such a burden?

Academia is more than just teaching and a lot of people have very strong misconceptions about academia, including the teaching part. Academia is also research, it is, to many people, a chance to take a topic that you have a deep, passionate interest in and really explore it. When people pursue it, their ultimate goals can be starkly different. Some want to teach students in the best way possible, some just dream of somehow getting tenure while teaching in a passable way, some dream of getting funding for their passion projects. None of these things are inherently wrong and not all academics need to be a glutton for teaching. There are some very smart people out there, who don't have the right mindset or skills for that part of the job but whose brilliant minds will surely bring prestige to the institution and a lot of newfound knowledge and observations to the field.

  1. Why do people in academia (from grad student upwards) complain so much about their teaching load, often comparing it to that of their colleagues?

Because these loads are very often uneven or feel uneven, because sometimes you have a nightmare class or a nightmare student, because teaching while you also have to do a bunch of publications is... it's a lot. The thing is, in most jobs, as time passes and your career trends upward - your lot gets easier. In academia, that is not always the case. You may be a great teacher, but if you don't do the right publications, you end up handling everything yourself while someone with better people skills, a savvier approach to research, etc. will have assistants doing everything.

That said, teaching is, like it or not, an essential part of the experience and I think anyone who actively wishes to never do it again simply won't cut it in modern academia. Now, whether that's a problem with them or with the inherent structure of academia... that's a whole other question.

0

An addition to the comments on rewards (status, career advancement, faculty positions) being better for research rather than teaching, I would expand a category that could be summarized as future Return-On-Investment (ROI) from research focus vs teaching focus.

  • Your chance of becoming a celebrity / famous are better with a publication in Nature / Science / (Prestigious Journal of Choice) than they are from years of teaching students.
  • Your chance of becoming wealthy from research grants (and secondary benefits) is greater.
  • Your chance of having a successful spin-off company is greater.
  • Your chance of lateraling into a lucrative/prestigious industry/government job is greater.
  • Your chance of being chosen for an influential steering or advising committee is greater.
  • Your chance of becoming "management" (dean, provost, faculty chair) are greater.
  • Your chance of lateraling to a better (read: more prestigious) institution are greater.
  • Your chance of having students compete to work with you is greater.

Thus, directly addressing the two questions.

  1. How can someone end up working in academia, if teaching is such a burden?

    • Short, that's not why they're in academia.
  2. Why do people in academia (from grad student upwards) complain so much about their teaching load, often comparing it to that of their colleagues?

    • Teaching load goes opposite almost all the ROI concepts that lead to what Americans value (celebrity, wealth, control)

Edit 12/16/2022 Responding to comments here because its too long for comments.

@G. Gare - (A) "Nobody?" Beyond the Labs: Pathways to Wealth for Academics and Social Capital Ii: Determinants of Economic Connectedness "Note Figure 5b, top research schools" and Deep Class and Wealth Divisions Between Faculty and Broader Society "PhDs are in significantly better zip codes, and their children start in better zip codes" (B) Wealthier PIs Submit Way More Grants and The Rich and the Rest "Somebody's looking at grants as a path to wealth"

@Bryan Krause UC Faculty Salary Scale vs Dean Salary Scale or look at Higher-Ed Executive Pay vs Faculty Pay vs Non-Tenure Pay Especially anything with the word "Research" in front of it. Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering show especially enormous disparities.

@Morgan - What are "most" academics trying to do? Do you have research or surveys to support your views on the career objectives of 12.5 million tertiary education faculty? How many are attempting to have a spin-off such as in Urbana-Champagne, UC Davis, or All Sacremento. Perhaps the number who advising, documenting, or promoting-1 2 spin-offs? Perhaps just ref these stack exchange academia answers and topic.

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  • 6
    "Your chance of becoming wealthy from research grants (and secondary benefits) is greater": (A) nobody's goal in academia is to become wealthy (B) the purpose of grants is not making a PI wealthy.
    – G. Gare
    Dec 14, 2022 at 8:02
  • 4
    Most academics aren't trying to become a celebrity, get wealthy, have a spinoff-company or industry/government job, or enter management. So this is a weird answer. Dec 14, 2022 at 9:28
  • 5
    I don't believe you're involved in academia if you suggest that the chance of becoming "management" is a pro of good research output. Those positions are mostly associated with no longer being able to do your own research (dean, provost) and high undesirable administrative burden (chair). There are even departments where the chair specifically rotates to different people in the department because no one wants that horrible job.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 14, 2022 at 16:48
  • @Bryan Krause Steady on, old chap ! Rotating headships of department can be justified on other grounds like 7 year contract lapsing, fear of stagnation, desire for periodic refreshment of leadership, consensus over individuality in decisions, etc.
    – Trunk
    Dec 14, 2022 at 17:27
  • 1
    Many (if not most) people in academia choose to be there at the expense of more lucrative industry jobs. Academia is not a great choice if someone wanted to maximise their monetary (or fame or career advancement) ROI. You seem to be trying to find a lot of very indirect reasons why someone might prefer research, while seeming to disregard the obvious one: they just like research.
    – NotThatGuy
    Dec 16, 2022 at 9:23
-2

They are showing their true colors.

In reality, those faculty members are just people like anyone else. They do not have above average interest in helping others or the over-the-top altruism laid out in the university brochure.

They are interested in their next grant. Teaching simply interferes with their interests. Teaching only advances their respective careers as far is it is a requirement.

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  • 1
    It seems rather despicable to suggest that people primarily interested in furthering humanity's body of knowledge only care about themselves and their own interests, and quite narrow-minded to suggest that people are "over-the-top altruistic" for being predisposed towards explaining things in front of a group of people, and setting up and marking tests.
    – NotThatGuy
    Dec 15, 2022 at 13:13
  • @NotThatGuy and yet the poster has evidence contrary to your assertion.
    – user156207
    Dec 15, 2022 at 13:15
  • @NotThatGuy your comment is precisely why i loathe academia. I am somehow the despicable one for pointing out that academics arent actually better than anyone else. Despicable is correct.
    – user156207
    Dec 15, 2022 at 13:17
  • @G.Gare no worries here. I standby that experiment and my diagnosis.
    – user156207
    Dec 15, 2022 at 13:40
  • @user156207 There is a philosophical argument that, regardless of how selfless they may seem, any given person would only do what (they think) would make them feel good in some way (if that's roughly what you're arguing for), but that doesn't seem to relate to the question at hand. "the poster has evidence contrary to your assertion" - What evidence? What assertion?
    – NotThatGuy
    Dec 15, 2022 at 14:37

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