Since I dissented from Rebecca Schuman last week, it's only fair to note that I agree with her this week. (I am large, I contain multitudes, etc.) Like yours truly, Schuman finished her doctorate in five years--which, as she says, "only gave me two measly years to build a teaching portfolio and a reputation in the classroom." At that, her teaching experience at UC Irvine (my undergraduate alma mater) was still far more extensive than mine at the University of Chicago: a Humanities Core "discussion section" is much closer to a regular seminar than the grand total of two discussion sections I got to lead at the U of C, which were q&a review sessions for the lecture.
I continue to be puzzled by those who fetishize completing a humanities doctorate in five years. Finishing quickly can certainly make good financial sense--less debt, the possibility of getting an actual salary and retirement account, etc. But leaving aside the noticeable lack of tenure-track positions, the current expectations for teacher preparation may make someone with a five-year degree less, not more, competitive. I mean, I graduated and promptly found myself even less employable than Schuman was, and that was when the job market was merely terrible, not a black hole of despair. (The back-door feedback I received later from one of the interviewers, thanks to a personal connection, was that my interview was great...and the likelihood that I would crash in an apocalyptic-like blaze when he put me in a classroom was also great.) I think that in the seventeen years or so that I've been here, we've hired only a couple of people straight out of graduate school--but even they had racked up fairly extensive teaching records before graduating. Depending on one's personal circumstances, it may well make more sense to stick around for six or seven years and do a lot of composition/British Literature II/etc., especially since even someone who lands a job is likely to wind up in a teaching-intensive environment. Even being able to talk about screwing up in the classroom, which is what my eventual successful job interview involved, is better than trying to speak pedagog-ese with no obvious practical experience.