Guest post: Interpretive dance to demonstrate knowledge of mitosis

From a comment by iknklast on How to threaten power.

There is a battle between faculty and administration right now, both of whom claim to support high standards, but who identify that differently. High standards to the faculty means that you actually educate the students in what they came to learn; high standards to the administration means they are happy. They are doing battle right now with English and Math because they are trying to remove basic competencies in reading and mathematics that we currently require for graduation; the administration says that held up several students from getting their degree on time. Yeah. It’s more important that they graduate than that they learn anything.

They’ve also made it possible for students to get their degree without ever taking a science class. They added Psych 101 to the science curriculum; it is full to overflowing every semester while hard science classes are slipping in numbers. They used to put students in my Environmental Science course for the “easy” science…until it became obvious that it is not, in fact, easy, at least not if it’s taught correctly. I do not hold hands and sing Kum Bay Yah with my students, and we don’t sit around all semester learning about recycling for the 2000th time. They get the science of how the environment works, and why you shouldn’t try to get all chemicals out of the environment, and so forth. No New Age silliness in my class, just science.

So the administration did what any self respecting educator would do…they multiplied awards by giving them some sort of certificate for almost anything. A certificate for this class, a diploma for a couple more classes, and then a degree at the end. A student could probably come out with a dozen or two “awards” for doing nothing more than taking classes.

Meanwhile I’m sitting through harrowing ‘training’ sessions that tell me we should not give students deadlines; it’s too much pressure. Yeah, right. So next Sunday A.D. is fine if that’s when they want to turn in the paper? After they’ve been graduated for twelve years, because we don’t want to hold up anyone’s graduation just because they can’t read or do basic arithmetic? And we should let the student select how they are assessed. The example they give is to allow a student to do interpretive dance to demonstrate their knowledge of mitosis. So the fuzzy subjective feel good nonsense from elsewhere will begin to pervade the sciences, and we no longer have anything that can live up to the name of education.

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