Colleges and universities should require all faculty to spend time working outside the academic world in professions relevant to the courses they teach.
There are more and more complaints from students who find that what they learn in classroom can hardly be directly applied to job related tasks. There seems to be a gap between the courses content and the reality at work. If faculty worked outside the academic world in professions relevant to the courses they teach, it may help provide more satisfactory educational experience given the practical demands that can be expected of the students in their future career. However, one must be reasonable in their expectations because not all fields would benefit from having the instructor work outside of the educational institution.
It is not necessarily guaranteed that, with experience outside of the classroom, instruction in the classroom can be improved. Generally there are two categories of disciplines with different purposes of education in universities: one is to train students with practical skills which put them at more advantageous position in the job markets (engineering or law school), another aims at cultivating well-rounded persons (history, philosophy, or some theoretical science). The education in these disciplines does not guarantee the students to earn more money but to cultivate such abilities of independent and critical thinking, creativity and the desire to explore the unknown territories.
Lets address the faculties responsible for training students with practical skills. For these instructors, the experience outside the classroom in a professional job can help improve the quality of their instructions. The job outside can keep the faculty member up to date with developing problems and methods in the field. Based on the understanding, they can better design the contents of their courses to prepare their students to face real job challenges. A more accurate classroom experience would enable students to better select careers related to their interests.
However, lets consider the other side of education—the arts. One of the obvious difficulties for these faculties is that there are only a few professional related jobs for them outside of educational institutions. Except for universities and research institutes, seldom require the assistance of a historian, for example. If these faculty were required to find a related job outside of the education institution, the quality of the instruction from these faculties might not improve at all. Their skills depends on the deep understanding as a result of long time independent thinking, analyzing, synthesis, and discussion with colleagues not from the experience outside. A job outside might just prove to be a distraction and detract from their ability to provide a good educational experience.
In conclusion, before mandating that all educators be required to take up a career outside of the education institution, it would be prudent to consider whether that experience would enrich or detract from the course content.
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