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Ending the Exploitation of Experts Begins with Educating Them about Employment, Curbing Enthusiasm to Preserve Enthusiasm


Dr Alex Vasquez, 28 Dec 2016 


This article was originally published in International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine 2016 PDF and posted on Academia.edu

My own paths toward and perspectives on Education
My passion for teaching and education began "formally" when I was about 9 years of age, sitting on the floor of Ms Hall's 4th grade classroom; from that vantage as I sat somewhat near my best friend Robert, I saw the destructive power of bad teaching and discrimination, and from that day I started analyzing teachers, teaching methods, educational and social structures, and ways to convey knowledge and inspire students. Additionally inspired by my teacher of English and Literature in my final years at Riverside Military Academy, I began college with the plan of eventually teaching "something—most likely English and Literature" because I appreciated and valued teaching, proper grammatical structure, and nuanced use of language; I later developed and interconnected my interests in teaching, writing, language, physiology, medicine, and nutrition to complete three doctorate degrees in the health sciences and publish more than 120 articles, letters, rebuttals, monographs, and books on a wide range of topics, with those publications ranging from dense 1-page Letters and Responses to published research up to single-author textbooks of more than 1,180 pages. I have taught at various colleges and universities at the undergraduate, graduate/Masters, and Doctorate levels and have lectured internationally for post-graduate medical education. I see teaching not simply as effective transferal of information, but also as a means to interconnect and inspire generations of people, notably in a reciprocal manner. At its best, teaching and learning are activities that reflect and support love for life itself.

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Oh, the stories I could tell you about the innards of Academia, “nonprofits”, and “accredited” schools
I would be happiest to tell you that Academics and Administrators are vanguards of intellectual integrity, support for fellow Professors, and that these peoples' highest commitment is to truth and reality itself, and secondarily to setting ablaze the passions of the hearts and minds of those they teach, lead, and supervise; I'd be the first to spin around in flower fields like a professorial version of Julie Andrews singing a rhythmical rendition of "The Hills are Alive…with the…Passions of Education and Intellectual Integrity." But a pollyannic representation of my observations would be a misrepresentation of the realities I have seen and experienced. I have seen university presidents lie to their students, expel experts for the sake of maintaining their own petty powers and preferences, and I have seen entire academic administrations lie (misrepresent) in unison to their boards of trustees and their accreditation commissions. I have seen stand-alone academic programs make millions of dollars in profit, while its administrators refuse to pay a living wage to doctorate-level infrastructure and while allowing themselves 6-week European vacations during major institutional initiatives. I have seen administrators lie to accreditors and allow students to cheat their way through graduate programs (by bypassing faulty examination software in online programs), and I have seen accreditors turn a blind eye to obvious university corruption, made worse when the accreditation commission is infiltrated by university administrators—thus did “accreditation” come to lose its value. I have seen “nonprofit educational institutions” underpay their faculty, plagiarize from their faculty, resell the work of other professionals without notice or compensation, and then pay their upper administrators in excess of US$160,000 for less than part-time work—thus did “nonprofit organization” come to lose its value. I have seen schools blackmail excellent professors and leaders in education with gag orders, legal threats, and financial bribery (range US$25,000 up to $250,000) to buy their silence about institutional corruption. I have corresponded with employment attorneys, State Attorneys General, and US Department of Education, most of whom shrugged their shoulders and said, “That’s the way it is in academia.” Sorry if I am the first to tell you the news, but much of academia is a battlefield of politics and incompetence shrouded by glossy brochures, colorful catalogs, and manicured campus landscapes. Meanwhile, some passionate and talented –occasionally even gifted– professors endure all that they can while trying to teach and inspire the next generation of students, young adults, and future professionals and citizens. Eventually, even the strongest are exhausted from administrative micromanagement and false pleasantries; their innate commitment to truth and respect for reality repulses them away from the corrupt quagmire of lies, inverted truths, and overt ethical and legal violations that emanate from the offices of senior (mis)management. 

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Intellectuals and passionate teachers are easy targets for exploitation
Passionate teachers will tend to say "yes" when offered an opportunity to share their knowledge and passion for life. Also, because they are inherently rational, other-oriented, and honest, such professors commonly transfer these inner qualities to others in the form of easy agreement and generous good will before accurately assessing the details of agreements and contracts. Because they are inherently rational, other-oriented, and honest, professors tend to assume that others are, too. Further obscuring their accurate assessment is the use of positive phrases within the text of contracts such as "teamwork", "sharing", "inspiring", and "collaborative"—all of which are agreeable words and concepts that can shroud details and clauses that essentially enslave and exploit the very professors and experts being hired. Passion is converted into exhaustion, and clarity converted to confusion, when enthusiasm is exploited by conniving contractual agreements obligate educators to be intellectually exsanguinated and financially enslaved. In these days of neoliberalism, privatization, outsourcing, and union-busting, doctorate-level professors find themselves being exploited by methods akin and identical to contract laborers and field workers. However, in the increasingly fragmented world of education—especially online education—professors are divided and conquered by isolation and distance with little opportunity to organize, petition, or even voice their concerns to a campus audience or panel of peers.

Educating Experts about Employment Exploitation
Teaching “opportunities” (eg, passion, sharing, instruction) take material form as legal contracts, frequently devoid of goodwill and loaded with pollyanna and cheerful phrases while obligating the professor/teacher/expert to an intolerable load of responsibilities—including out-of-pocket expenses—and obligations to “participate” and “build” and “contribute” countless unpaid hours. This is where passion and enthusiasm must be reigned, lest the intellectual beast of burden be overloaded and eventually crushed. If you as an instructor are hired with a contract specific to the teaching of one class for a fixed amount of payment, you cannot be obligated to participate in other meetings, trainings, certifications, exercises and committees. Any such contract is almost certainly illegal and unenforceable because it violates employee protections against wage theft and misclassification of employees. Quotes and citations to full-text articles are provided below; they speak for themselves, articulating the distinction between contracted professor and employed professor. "Employees" are either of the following but cannot be both: 1) Contracted, independent contractors paid a fixed sum to perform a specific task in their manner with little input. Handle their own expenses, schedules, other jobs, etc, 2) Salaried employees work and are paid by the hour, which might include work, meetings and trainings. What is illegal and increasingly popular at universities (to the distain of professors) is to hire professors on a limited contract basis (“you are paid $X for teaching Course X”) and then burden them with all the duties and responsibilities of a fully-employed hourly-salaried professor. 


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Curbing Enthusiasm to Preserve Enthusiasm: Conclusion to Part 1

Don’t be so fast to sign that contract, but if you sign one as bad as the example above, my judgement is that you could probably escape from it on the basis of employee misclassification and wage theft because the school has misrepresented your position—even if they gave you a title such as Adjunct Professor—because they are working you like a full-time professor (work that is salaried per hour with a limitation on time worked) but only paying you as an independent contractor ($X for few X hours). Teach for free if you want to teach for free; volunteer unpaid hours if you want to—but do these things consciously and not from any sense of obligation. Do not confuse being a “professor” with being the workhorse and unpaid servant of a university that asks you sign a contract that gives them unlimited control over your work schedule and forces you to attend meetings at your own expense. Tell them you need the contract re-written, tell them that you need more appropriate compensation for the hours, and that the obligations need a finite end. But please remind yourself that you are not a slave to anyone nor to any institution. Do not let your love for learning and teaching become your Achilles’ heel; don’t let your passions and talents become your weakness and downfall via overwork that leads to exhaustion and burn-out. If the school offers you exploitation in exchange for your talents, walk away and find a school or a group such as www.ICHNFM.ORG that has a core value system designed around the incentivization of excellence. Ultimately and obviously, when administrators fail to provide decent and fair—let alone supportive and inspiring—work conditions, intellectuals and professors must partner together with each other for collective benefit and for the benefit of the students and the quality of the educational and teaching experience. More and more, university professors—both full-time and those who are ancillary/adjunct—are working together in unions to protect their livelihoods, the quality of education, and the respect due to accomplished professors.* Intellectuals and professionals tend to want to work independently, and they have to overcome the erroneous idea that working together for their common interest is somehow “below” the interests and needs of professionals; but in these days of neoliberal/neoconservative profiteering and underpayment and outsourcing of talent, collective partnerships will be the only way to eke out a decent living that sustains professionals in their work.                                                                                         

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FOR CLARITY: Chapter 5.1b from Inflammation Mastery 4th Edition was published separately as

Pain Revolution in color and later as

Brain Inflammation in discounted grayscale; the digital versions are identical.

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Overview (Part 1) of the Functional Inflammology Protocol

Dr Vasquez introduces the "Functional Inflammology Protocol" at the 2013 International Conference on Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine (PDF brochure)

Dr Vasquez's "functional inflammology protocol", famously recalled by the FINDSEX ® acronym, is reviewed in this presentation for its application to the three general types of inflammatory diseases/responses: 1) metabolic inflammation, including glial activation and emphasizing the component of mitochondrial dysfunction, 2) allergic inflammation, including asthma and eczema, and 3) autoimmune inflammation, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and the many other conditions that Dr Vasquez has detailed in his books starting in 2004 (Integrative Orthopedics) and 2006 (Integrative Rheumatology, now published as Inflammation Mastery, 4th Edition)

Inflammation Mastery 4th Edition


Samples and excerpts:

Click on PDF (larger PDF with photos) to see inside; download ebook sample at Amazon