Thursday, 13 October 2011

Subversives in the staff room

Our central university management launched a new curriculum and structure a year or so ago, with no consultation or planning period. A fresh look at how and what we do is a healthy thing to do periodically - but imposing one without any academic justification (we were constantly told that pedagogical support would be proffered, but none appeared).

Now we have 3 timetables (semester-long modules, year-long modules and postgraduate modules) with a confusing smorgasbord of start and end dates, less choice of modules and various other confusions. Worse, it was imposed on students without warning: final-year students returned to find the modules they'd planned to take had been cancelled or moved. Some changes have been positive: a whole academic year to do the third-level dissertation is a really good idea.

On the whole, the students weren't happy. Our National Student Survey result dropped, with a large number of comments relating to 'Learning Works'. So you'd think that some reflection might be in order.

You naive saps. Management response is that the students only think they're unhappy. In fact, the new structure worked perfectly, it's just that nobody noticed because they'd been hoodwinked by their teachers. Why do they think they're unhappy? Because academic staff (i.e. the experts not consulted about restructuring) manipulated the students like puppets. Because obviously students are malleable drones who'll do our bidding. Heaven forfend that they might actually decide off their own bats that the new system is flawed.

I confess. I'm guilty. From my lair I hypnotised the student body until they were ready to march on the Executive Suite with pitchforks and flaming module evaluation forms, ready to serve my nefarious aims.

If only. I get an enormous thrill if a student tells me they enjoyed a lecture. The idea that suddenly we have the rhetorical skills and manipulative ability of the bastard love-child of Hitler and Edward Bernays is just laughable. Is it too much for these people just to accept that rather than a conspiracy, the teachers and the students (i.e. the people at the sharp end of their bright ideas) reached the same, reasonable conclusion?


neal said...

Sounds even more complicated than the Mayan calendar, a least they only had 2 systems. Does yours predict an apocalypse next year as well?

The Plashing Vole said...

We've had it already.

Anonymous said...

But there is a realignment on Dec 21st 2012 to look forward to