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博士有病?天知否?

已有 9018 次阅读 2010-4-25 01:56 |个人分类:读书学艺|系统分类:海外观察

博士有病?天知否?

2010.04.25

前天晚上在机场转机的时候,正好碰到一个美国同事。他手上拿着一本书What's So Great About America(《美国为什么牛》)。他说这是他的一个保守派朋友推荐他读的,而他自己是中间偏左,并不完全同意其中的说法。

Amazon上What's So Great About America信息链接:http://www.amazon.com/Whats-So-Great-About-America/dp/0895261537

他对我手中那本书感到好奇,书名是The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century。我开玩笑说:这本书的名字也许可以叫做What's So Great About Ph.D.(《博士为什么牛》)。

Amazon上The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century信息链接:http://www.amazon.com/Formation-Scholars-Twenty-First-Jossey-Bass-Advancement/dp/0470197439

The Formation of Scholars这本书,是2008年出版的Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching的The Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate研究项目通过5年时间对美国几十个不同领域的博士教育机构(系)进行研究后的报告。

Amazon上对本书的描述如下:

Product Description
This groundbreaking book explores the current state of doctoral education in the United States and offers a plan for increasing the effectiveness of doctoral education. Programs must grapple with questions of purpose. The authors examine practices and elements of doctoral programs and show how they can be made more powerful by relying on principles of progressive development, integration, and collaboration. They challenge the traditional apprenticeship model and offer an alternative in which students learn while apprenticing with several faculty members. The authors persuasively argue that creating intellectual community is essential for high-quality graduate education in every department. Knowledge-centered, multigenerational communities foster the development of new ideas and encourage intellectual risk taking.

前些天在访问期间和几位同行谈到目前国内培养的博士生水平的问题。他们告诉我比较普遍的现象是最近这些年从中国来的博士后需要两年以上的进一步培训才能达到起码的博士后要求,其中最主要的问题是学术上的知识背景和研究上的训练不足。当然,有的比较牛一点的同行说得可能更直白一点,他们认为国内的不少博士需要重新读一个博士才能达到他们所期望的博士后的能力和训练标准。

作为曾经在美国拿到博士学位的国内的博士生导师,我当然知道这其中的问题,不然两三年前我也不会写那篇“臭名昭著”的《99%的博士和博导不合格》博文。

《十有八九的博士和博导不合格(原标题:99%的博士和博导不合格)》博文链接:http://www.sciencenet.cn/m/user_content.aspx?id=8116

中国在30年前没有自己培养的博士,而现在每年会生产出好几万不那么合格的博士,这其中每年真要有一两千个真正水平好的博士,就不只是一个伟大成就了。以我的愚见,如果把每年的所谓全国百篇优秀博士论文拿来客观地评价一下的话,再把其中真正比较好数目的再乘以一个50,估计也是远远达不到这个成就的。

对于博士训练的目的和要求,The Formation of Scholars这本书上的看法是这样的:

Doctoral education prepares scholars who both understand what is known and discover what is yet unknown. They conserve the most valued knowledge of the past even as they examine it critically. They invent new forms of understanding as they move their fields ahead. yet the most the understand, the heavier their moral obligation to use their knowledge and skill with integrity, responsibility, and generosity. They are thinkers and actors, intellectual adventurers and moral agents. The idea of formation, borrowed from religious educators, refers to the kind of education that leads to an integration of mind and moral virtue that we often call character or integrity.(Page IX, Forward.)

The PhD is the monarch of the academic community. It is the very highest accomplishment that can be sought by students. It signals that its recipient is now ready, eligible, indeed obligated, to make the most dramatic shift in roles: from student to teacher, from apprentice to master,from novice or intern to independent scholar and leader.(Page X, Forward.)

What accounts for the mystique of the PhD? It is the academy's own means of reproduction.In a Darvinian ense, the academy invests most heavily in its own means of reproduction and sustainability. The denouement of the doctorate, the dissertation, is not only a piece of original research intended to set its writer apart from all who preceded her. It is also a celebration of the scores of scholars on whose shoulder any piece of individual scholarship rests. Even as the candidate writes the dissertation-the contribution to knowledge, the evidence of scholarly innovation and invention-the text is pppered with footnotes and references, citations and bibliographies, acknowledgments and attributions. Each of these bear witness to every scholar's debt to her predecessors in scholarship. References and footnotes also acknowledge the work of comtemporaries who live in the same professional and disciplinary community as the candidate, or in a closely neighboring field of study. Scholarship is a social and communal activity. Thus candidates give recognition to the continuing presence of their extended intellectual community as the scaffold that supports and sustains their research work, whether present in the teachers and colleagues of one's own program, or ever helpful in the whispers, hints, proof texts, and challenges of scholars long dead but still audible through their work. It is also why, we argue in this volume, nothing is more critical to the quality of a doctoral program than the character of the intellectual community created by its teachers and students. (Page IX, Forward.)

The doctorate as an institution provides the stability and tradition that renders scholarship a human activity that transcends generations, cultures, and contexts. It is both a paragon of innovation and a defender of the faith. The doctorate is both transformation and impediments; it preserves what is enduring, but can also paralyze-hardening catagories and freezing traditions into empty rituals. The best doctoral programs attempts to discover the "sweet spot" between conservation and change by teaching skepticism and respect for earlier traditions and sources while encouraging strikingly new ideas and courageous leaps forward.(Page IX, Forward.)

过多的引用是一种罪过,所以我必须就此打住。

回顾自己过去十多年的博导生涯,我觉得自己在formation未来的scholar的任务上可以说是完全失败的。尽管有少数学生也的确超出了当初我对他们的期望,但是我感到最为失望的事情是在我接触到的研究生中,的确是几乎没有人愿意将他们自己培养成为真正的scholar,虽然他们是在所谓中华人民共和国最重要、水平最高和研究条件最好的研究机构里面攻读博士学位。当然,这并非全是学生们自己的错,首先我的同事里面也的确没有几个算得上真正的学者。相信我的同事们自己也是同样的看法,所以我这样说,他们也不会有什么好生气的。这只不过是过去几十年中国学术界的生存和繁衍的现实。

在讨论到美国的博士教育中的问题的时候,机场上碰到的那个美国朋友说:世界上总有一些smart people,原则上总可以在当时看起来最重要的和最有希望的领域看到他们的身影。所以,操心那些糟糕的事情和不够好的人没有太多的意义。

的确,沉舟侧畔千帆过,病树前头万木春。别人的博士念得好不好,跟我有什么相干呢?那是他们自己的事。我自己只要选择与好的学生和博士打交道就行了。

Hu doesn't care. Who cares?

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附:The Formation of Scholars一书目录




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