Senin, 01 September 2008

Academic Inbreeding

One of the common refrains I hear from those that intern for me is that they felt that their college was a waste, and they should have come through my program, or a similar one, and that the real world experiences far better prepares them for the freelance world.

I can see their point, and understand that, to a degree, it may be true, but that degree is worth a great deal. But what degree?
(Continued after the Jump)

First things first - graduating from college is critical. Don't be an idiot and think that it's not worth it. So many people I know say that getting your degree is the ultimate test in being able to demonstrate you can finish something you started. I agree with that sentiment.

Recently, there was a discussion on a photo association listserv about the qualifications for a teaching position.
Faculty members must have teaching experience at the college level and are required to maintain active participation in their field of photography.
Active participation? I can't say I know a lot of professors that would fit that bill. A few, but not a lot.
The perfect candidate for this job is someone who has an MFA in photography, plus commercial and teaching experience.
And here's where I, along with others on the listserv had a problem. This school requires a Masters? Surely this applies in fields like English, the Sciences, and so forth, but the arts? Maybe Art History degrees, but for the field of photography, I just don't see it.

In the schools of today, in large part, the inbreeding, tenure debates, and self-congratulation that goes along with being an academic is part of the problem with todays' photographers that enter the real world with a diploma, $100k or so in debt, and no way to pay that debt off. Few schools are preparing their students with the tools they need to succeed in business, since freelancers are the new staffers.

I have a few colleagues, and professors at places like RIT, and Brooks, and so forth, that have said that my book is on their required reading list. If you know of others, please post them in the comments. I am not saying that my book, per se, is the end-all be-all answer, but it's at-least an indicator if the professors at the school even care about the issue of their photographers as soon-to-be self-employed.

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