Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Fountainhead Movie

This weekend I got my wife to watch "The Fountainhead" with me. I've had the movie for years -- in fact, it's on VHS -- but it's been a while since I saw it (even longer since I read the book). As i was watching the movie, it became rather clear to me that the reason I don't have a job in my field is the same reason why Roark couldn't work in his field and eventually had to work as a day laborer. I sat there and heard Gary Cooper say almost word for word things I had been saying about why I can no longer be a teacher. I wonder if it is possible for a man of integrity to begin teaching, consider the classes we are made to begin teaching when we are hired at the university level. Certainly at higher levels, where you can choose what classes you want to teach and how you want to teach them, a person of integrity can do just fine. But the universities have become so corrupt that anyone who wants to actually teach students any sort of content will be run out -- or be put under so much pressure that he will quit of his own accord. This latter is what happened to me recently.

In art, it's easy to understand arguments regarding the integrity of the work. Architecture was a good choice for Ayn Rand, as it was both artistic and practical. In a sense, education is the same way. There is an art to it, but it has to be practical as well. Roark could wait for people to come to him, but it's another thing to have people come to me as a teacher. Perhaps if I can publish books, people will come to me. But my work and my name have to get out there for people to even know about me. Roark in this sense has it easy: he has actual physical buildings out there where people can see them and make their own judgement. In a sense, this blog is a virtual edifice of my construction -- but virtual edifices are harder to see than those made of stones and steel.

Perhaps one day I will have the same kinds of students of integrity as Roark had customers of integrity. But until that time comes, and I can make my living at it, I cannot see myself teaching. To paraphrase Roark, I would rather work as a day laborer than sacrifice my integrity as a teacher. When I have to stand in front of a classroom of people who have no interest in learning, I sacrifice my integrity as a teacher. I thought the one or two per class who did want to learn were enough. It turns out that they are not, as the majority will complain and campaign against you until you either give in, or quit. And that is why I will no longer teach.
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