This strategic positioning non-sense has got to stop.
I'm sure many of you have recently received an email inviting you to take a survey.
Intrigued, I followed the link to see the most absurd redundancy.
Every question involved something to do with "Diversity at the University". Now, say that a few hundred times fast, and it gets pretty mangled. The fact that they kept repeating it was quite amusing. However, the most amusing part was the "thank you" notice at the end, where they talk about articulating their diversity position. Which is what they failed at in the survey.
I filled one of the many boxes with a long prose of inflammatory rhetoric aimed squarely at their pointless sham. While I applaud the quest for diversity, they're missing the boat on what the real goal should be of this strategic positioning forum.
The real quest is finding a way to better reach students, and to communicate with them the ideas that have been accrued over the vast spanse of human imagination and ingenuity. This is a very complex situation, and if they simply do a head count to figure out if they're "diverse" enough, I think they will fail miserably in assessing how well the system is working to educate people.
After all, the motto engraved on northrup speaks to enlightening everyone, regardless of their background. They can't simply put people of color into the mix and claim they're doing good when they succeed. As that is a simple self fullfilling prophecy, as the white man writes the test, so does the white man score well. Anyone that does well has only done one thing well, which is understand a one way street of information.
In their zeal to understand, they may do the most harm to themselves that can be done, and that is to overprint one's own experience with the the truths of others. This throws away untested hypothesises for tested hypothesis. But a hypothesis that is untested isn't necessarily wrong. The system of undergraduate education is completely out of whack with what the realities of peoples day.
Simply because many minorities come from poor familiies, people who have to work a job at the same time as they go to school, and still get good grades, would be the best way to judge a man's intelligence. To be able to follow the breadth and width of human endevours, while at the same time staying compellingly intouch with the world of humans is quite a feat to me.
To many teachers rely on a process of rote memorization to ascertain whether people have learned the material. This does nothing but hinder those that do not have the time to remember by brute force all the different questions that could be asked about a subject like water. Infact you could spend a 4 year degree on learning about this single subject, and still not remember it's 5 or so different solid phases, and where they lay on a pressure temperature diagram.
It's the filler of tests that are such a disappointment at the university. Many instructers become extremely lazy, what with all their grants, and papers, and graduate students, they tend to forget that their first job is to teach, and their second job is to assess their ability to do so.
This is the faulty logic the university is perpetually esposing as the finest in education. Recently, I found out that the only person who was able to assess my learning, my grade, my test, was the teacher who graded it, wrote it, and taught me. There is no one empowered to be an outside observer, there is no path to take a dispute that a teacher has been lazy, or has been inadequately grading the knowledge they claim to possess.
It seems as if as long as you have a PHD, you're qualified to teach and assess what has been learned. Theres a serious disconnect in these two ideas. If you want your university to be a one way dialogue, then you might as well start memorizing a dictionary.
Some people enjoy that, they enjoy banging their head against a wall to learn the matrial in rote. To be able to integrate an equation the same way every time, regardless of the innumerable of ways that it could be done differently, as long as the teacher does it this way, then by god, they should do it that way.
Thats where diversity comes back into play, and the question of time comes coupled hand and hand. True learning deals with facts, theories, and hypothesises. The facts sit in dictionaries, the data sits on the shelves, and the access to it should be assumed to be unequivocal. The theories themselves are extensive, they should be examined, and reiterated in many different ways, but they needn't be applied, theories have long histories behind them. As understanding this history is important, it should take a back seat to what truly matters in education.
Thats the hypothesis. Given this data, given this theory, what else can be derived from it? Do they make sense together, does the theory's bounds suggest an alternate hypothesis? Thousands of different questions can be posed, many different viewpoints can be taken, and true learning is in finding hypothesis that fit well with data and theory.
Many teachers I have found rely to heavily on data and theory, and completely ignore the rendering of hypothesis. How many times have you taken for granted that you have a take home test, that involves questions whose answers are simply a summary of some chapter of whatever book you were assigned to read.
Does this sort of learning make any sense? Sure, in the realm of a first year student, we need to know that you read properly, that your mind doesn't fill in certain voids, that the basic tools of logic are at your disposal. But we ought to not malign people's intelligence, they reached school, we must assume they want to be here, and after that year, we need to start prying at the doors.
To start assessing how they can create logical hypothesises from the data and theories we present them, rather than requesting for the millionth time that they take 4 books and write 5 pages. All that tests is whether the student has time to read 4 books, or that they've learned it before. Instead, you give them 5 pages, and ask them to question what those 5 pages must be using to be true.
In other words, stop testing me on whether I had enough time to examine paragraph 5 of section 10 in volume 3. Teach how to validate theory through hypothesis, how to review data and whether it conforms with expectations. Start looking at the error margins of all the knowledge. We know theory and hypothesis, and start putting them in the same sentence.
To become learned, as the universities governing proposition seems to be, requires that we're able to validate and invalidate hypothesis, not simply regurgitate available answers, but to search the seams for further analysis, further data, and continuing hypothesis.
You may want to complain that in 4 years this is an impossible task, but once again, you're putting time constraints on learning, and reality doesn't like time constraints. To reality, there is no time, only place. The reality of diversity is seeing how the learning curve changes due to time constraints.
In the end, we get to the idea of interconnectivity, and we need to be able to relate what we learn to the life that surrounds us, if the information we garner cannot be applied then it becomes waste.
I'm not going to pay for waste.