What Colleagues Say about Colleagues
The majority of writers see the academic world as a place where people want to be liked and want to like their colleagues. Many writers simply have little firsthand information about the quality of their colleagues’ teaching. The college from which the letters were obtained had advertised that it had an opening in its department of history and government for someone with experience teaching political science. The letters for those applying for positions at universities were written to three departments at three institutions, one in the southwest, one in the midwest, and one in the east. Teaching occurs in a classroom or laboratory setting away from the direct observation of colleagues, administrators, and peer review committees, and these letters reflect this fact. It is a wonder that colleagues know anything about each others’ teaching, and it is testimony to its importance on the part of many that some do and clumsily attempt to assess it.