Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations!
A teacher at Princeton University has published a CV of his career failures with an eye toward demonstrating to students who aren’t making the grade that everybody fails … or something.
The prof, named Johannes Haushofer, gets credit for his good intentions. But he loses that credit by sending a message that will be interpreted by many to suggest that failing is OK, which sadly will beget more failure.
The document, which appears on the Princeton website, opens this way:
Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible. I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days. This CV of Failures is an attempt to balance the record and provide some perspective.
Needless to say, the admission resonated with people on social media. Some responses to the idea were positive:
— Kathleen Searles (@kesearles) April 26, 2016
@jhaushofer Thanks so much! You're my new academic hero!
— Lonely Joe Parker (@LonelyJoeParker) April 30, 2016
Others not so much:
I am such a failure that I am on the faculty of Princeton in a tenure-track job. #cvoffailures
— Jon Danziger (@jondanziger) April 30, 2016
#CVofFailures: the academic equivalent of a millionaire saying “yeah, money has been a struggle, but I get along OK these days…”.
— Stuart Ritchie (@StuartJRitchie) April 30, 2016
Ultimately the whole enterprise smacks of the “safe space” phenomenon that is currently poisoning higher education in America.