I returned from the APA Central meeting in Chicago last week, and a conversation I had with several philosophers there has really stuck with me. The conversation included only young-ish philosophers (those who've received Ph.D.'s within the last ten years, along with some current grad students) and the discussion came around to how well graduate philosophy programs prepare students for their future careers. As we all observed, the Ph.D. is largely a research credential, but most programs at least make some effort to develop their students' teaching abilities. At the same time though, it was nearly unanimous (especially among those who had tenure-stream jobs) that few programs do enough to prepare students for specific pedagogical or vocational challenges: teaching large courses and/or large numbers of sections, designing courses, writing good examinations, serving on committees, etc.
What was clear to me afterward is that, for the overwhelming majority of academic philosophers, their jobs are quite different — in their day-to-day rhythms, patterns of work, even fundamental professional expectations — from what they were trained to do in graduate school. One participant in the discussion put it very nicely: "They trained us to replace them. But what else should we expect from graduate faculty? That's probably all they've ever known." In other words, graduate faculty train graduate students to do the work of graduate faculty at Research I institutions. Yet only a tiny minority of philosophers have that kind of academic position.
I've long wondered if our discipline takes the right approach to preparing future faculty. Needless to say, the evidence from my discussion at the APA is largely negative. Yet I thought we could take a modestly systematic approach to this question here at ISW: In the comments to this post, I'd like to hear whether those in the profession feel their graduate school training has prepared them (or is preparing them) for the jobs they have (or will have). I'd appreciate people being as specific as possible: I'm curious about teaching, obviously, but I'd also be interested in anything else you think is relevant to the performance of your professional duties. I'd also be interested in hearing from people at various career stages, to see if there's a larger evolution in how grad programs prepare people for work. Thanks -- I look forward to your input and reflections. (And since I can imagine people wanting to be anonymous in comments, I'd appreciate your helping keep everyone straight by commenting as Anon 1, Anon 2, etc.)