Not the Grand Finale … – … Yet

Not even in terms of work – remember Engels’ remark on labour and work, qualifying work as the activity that is paid for by wages, labour a (specific) physical activity.

Still, it is time to say another time good-bye as done earlier (and here)

 – this time from a sideline activity, I could without much exaggeration say: a kind of voluntary work, i.e. the casual teaching at a German third level institution.

It is difficult to present in a note of reasonable length – difficult as reality, this part of reality is full of contradictions. I try to be reasonably correct by putting some poles in the ground, some stumbling blocks – each of them on its own more or less ‘harmless’, ‘right’, ‘correct’, good by way of harmony of its tiny part of the world. Each of these poles is linked to another pole, or some other poles, striking a balance for some time, and collapsing like a house of cards when a butterfly passes, the palace crumbling as result of the stroke of the butterfly.

What are these activities about, how can they be characterised in general terms, leaving aside that each case is different: 

* they are securing income – as such privilege and often gratefully accepted; • one may be beneficiary of a colleague’s engagement by which one (= a person like me) gets the job, • just a matter of being at the right time in then right place, e.g. an institution is recruiting people with some specific expertise, • people who like teaching, supplementing their PhD-work … 

* it is about securing teaching – one may debate how many students are really “deserving students” = curious, mostly young people – sponging knowledge from A (as in ante portas, the state when the world as we know it only existed as Big Bang) to Z (as in zombie, ultimate part of the current culture which is itself somewhat zombie-like) it is the keen interest of those who are claiming on the many shoulders of great WoMen and the too often forgotten great work of their assistants). Sure, many of the students are more or even only interested in passing exams, answering the guiding question: “What do you want to do with your life” with the succinct wish: “making money, more than I actually need” … – but what can we expect if the main self-advertisement of such institutions is about careers and higher education for the sake of developing critical thinking emerges too often as unwanted side-effect

* — this (kind of) securing third level education by casual teaching (in several cases of third level institutions of the Western educational system a matter of app[roximately] 40 to 50 % – a matter of disencumber the public budget; a budget that for instance had been temporarily ramped by measures of privatisation: selling public goods means in the long run a deprivation of sources of public income

* furthermore, this kind of new division of labour has to be seen as twofold disqualification:

  • qualified admin work is disqualified – it is suggested that no qualification is needed and everybody, including academics can do it (yes, academics, this species that is for good reason often a welcome object for cartoons presenting the absent-minded, quixotic academic
  • qualified academic thinking is disqualified as it is overburdened by activities outside of their expertise – leaving aside that it is usually additional and non-remunerated activity, it is also depending on and supporting a specific understanding of the field and we can well speak of “taskification” of the work, defining the substance of teaching in tendency as solely task-oriented – evidenced by the knowledge society being shifted to a skills society [1]

* not least, being busy – with admin work; many colleagues also busy as they are in need of chasing for another job, or we may even say task

Yes, it is said that it is easy to find a job; but probably it is more correct to say: it is easy to find work, but still difficult to find work that allows to make a living. Little payment …, or actually highly qualified, if remunerated jobs that many citizens cannot afford. The societal consequences are often disastrous as the following quote from the Berlin Tagesspiegel (Tagesspiegel Checkpoint vom Dienstag, 11.10.2022; own translation P.H.) shows

Equally disturbing are the reports from the health offices, which, according to the president of the medical association, are short of 60 doctors. The erosion is extreme in Neukölln, where the quarrel between the city councillor and the current medical officer has escalated and the social psychiatric service has practically collapsed. In addition, the public health officers are outraged by the city councillor’s idea of having the health offices run by administrative professionals instead of doctors. In Treptow-Köpenick, a lawyer (specialised in medical law) has just started as head of the office. 

* Yes, then the polis is a romping place for ruled behaviour … – everything is given, no progress, not even movement its possible anymore: legitimation is a matter of entering rule-abiding processes, an ideal field for “how-to-research”, a cemetery for “why- and-what and what- and why-research” – the place where the past is only known as nightmare.

App – the abbreviation of approximately, used earlier – is today more known as abbreviation of application: application of rules, individual orders or complex systems of standards, regulations and their implementation in single acts or “behavioural standards” – be they meaningful or not, in any case a matter of boxing humans


von Jhering, in bis little book on the Trinkgeld, written end of the 19th century, states

It is blamed on us Germans that we leave a stone lying quietly in the path that we bump into – everyone curses it, but no one takes the trouble to move it out of the way or, if it is too heavy for him alone, to call in others to help. … ; everyone complains about it, but everyone leaves it there (to be added: continues doing so, P.H.). The reproach which we raise against the stone is directed against ourselves; he who merely curses a bad habit, instead of helping to eliminate it for his part, accuses himself – everyone who does not have the courage to oppose it is himself jointly responsible for the existence of a bad habit. No one has the right to complain about it but he who can give himself the testimony of having done everything in his power to put an end to it.

It is time then to say good-bye, not now and immediately; not without the famous “crying eye”, looking at those students who are really keen to study: for life and – where necessary – changing its conditions, not for a dull life of excessive self-presentation.[2]

[1] can teaching actually be booked via task rabbit – if so, the next step may be ordering it online, YouTube emerging as liferando of the educational system

[2] “… the twenty-first century is full of people who are full of themselves … a half-hour’s trawl through the online ocean of blogs, tweets … brings up thousands of individuals, fascinated by their own personalities and shouting for attention.” (Sarah Bakewell, 2010: How to live: A Life of Montaigne; London: Chatto and Windus: 1)


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