In her first book, author Greenwood Jones chronicles her professorial adventures as an unconventional academic.
Greenwood Jones didn’t receive her Ph.D. until she was nearly 50 years old and found herself vying for work in a hypercompetitive environment oversaturated with qualified candidates. After getting married and adopting a child, Greenwood Jones put getting a doctorate on hold and devoted herself to family, high school teaching, and a bottomless enthusiasm for tennis. She finally recommitted herself to academic work and encountered a slew of challenges: age discrimination, sexism (even at her beloved alma mater), and a job market built around the exploitation of adjunct lecturers. She also encountered infinitely picayune intramural disputes fueled by ego—especially at the hands of one of her mentors. Greenwood Jones sharply observes the shifting intellectual environment of higher education—she skewers its political correctness, the increasing insularity of academic research, and its faddishness, as well as its excessive obeisance to programmatic Marxism. The author spent the main of her career working for community colleges, but far from being resentful of professional marginalization, she recognizes some of the intellectual advantages of that fate: “True, I’ve spent most of my career ‘only’ on the community college level, but I’ve loved it; even preferred it; finding satisfaction in preparing students for universities, teaching useful basics rather than Marxist mumbo jumbo.” In fact, one wishes that Greenwood Jones devoted more of the book to these assessments; it doubles as a memoir and a critique of the modern American academy. Greenwood Jones finally found a tenure-track job in California—she spent some years marooned in Pennsylvania, apart from her family—and spent the last 20 years teaching there, in a peculiar state of professional fulfillment and estrangement. Her prose is refreshingly anecdotal, avoiding the turbid vernacular of collegiate communication. The uniqueness of Greenwood Jones’ place in campus culture (she’s a self-professed Mormon Democrat) permits the perch of both the insider and outsider, and the result is a remembrance brimming with common sense, and even wisdom.
A critical, sensible, charming view of modern academic life.