‘Knowledge’. With a capital K, specific Knowledge and Skills, not the general concept of knowledge. Knowledge is only as valuable as the market dictates. What about ‘pay peanuts, get monkeys’?
Recently I said I wasn’t prepared to keep sharing my Knowledge for little or no reward, and certainly no recognition or opportunity for forward progression. A senior colleague told me that what I knew was only worth what anyone else was prepared to pay. Whilst I concede this is how it works – it’s the basis of all free market economies – I need to examine just how accurate this is in the micro economy I work in that runs on the oil of knowledge, the education industry.
I watch while some colleagues who have pretty outdated and largely useless sets of knowledge continue to enjoy senior job titles and are paid considerable sums to teach in university, while those coming up in the ranks often with much more up to date and relevant skills sets are rewarded only with piecemeal casual contracts. With no mechanism for obtaining more senior posts as might be merited by their hard work and ability, how are universities expected to move forward and make best use of their staff? We have a major bottleneck. The established cronies carry on killing the very industry they have benefitted so much from while saying that they wish to move forward and plan for the future. A complicit duplicity if ever there was.
It’s the old story of protectionism. The cold wind of change blowing at the backs of senior colleagues only spells one thing – their demise. So they protect each other and fight off any signals of change. By any means necessary – unions, professional bodies, protocols, ‘the perceived way of doing things’ – anything. Those who are trying to move up the ranks are kept at bay. New people come in, for sure, but usually only other senior staff from similar institutions, who fit the profile.
It’s difficult to break this cycle of preserving the past for the sake of those who live in it. Perhaps it’s a matter of time, and change becoming so inevitable that the dam of all that prevents it finally bursts. But this is messy, uncontrolled. Surely, in our knowledge economy, there are better ways of encouraging new blood into management (or other senior posts) without the need for constant approval from those who are not fit to approve as they don’t have the knowledge or awareness of what it is they’re supposed to be approving.
In a nutshell, fifteen years ago the jobs that now exist were not even thought of – Search Engine Optimizer, Social Media Manager, 3D Printer, et al – so how on earth can people steeped in age old traditional educational practice even think of preparing our youth for this future?
The current situation is the veritable blind leading the sighted.