"They get great working conditions, extended holidays and commission from all the books they write", a student fumed

This quote was from the local student newspaper.

It’s perhaps not surprising that students (like most of the population) are unaware of what academics actually do. Teaching, itself, takes a lot of effort, time and thought. Few students wonder where the knowledge that we try to teach actually comes from; it’s in the creation of this knowledge that we spend the rest of our time on. It’s the reason that we don’t go on holiday, when the students go home.

There is a lot of cynicism among academics; when you feel part of the degree awarding, paper writing, grant applying treadmill, it’s not that surprising. But academics are hamstrung in their industrial dispute not by their cynicism, but their naivety; most of us still get a thrill and excitement out of our subjects; the pleasure in the knowledge that we teach, the excitement of extending it palpable. It’s for this reason that most of us work silly hours. It’s the reason that most of us will spend the time on strike working at home.

We find it hard to withhold our labour, because in doing so we hurt ourselves as much as we hurt others.In our market driven society, the value we put on the process of science subtracts from the value that society puts on us. Despite this, I will go on strike tomorrow; perhaps I am naive, but perhaps I like it this way.

Originally published on my old blog site.