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Friday, September 26, 2008

on diogenes, anonymity, TLA, and this blog

the real Diogenes used the streets of Athens as his blog and was not concerned with anonymity. it appears that only anonymous contributors are posting to this blog, and, except for myself, only anonymous contributors are responding. while anonymity has its good points, in all of the contributions so far the substance of the correspondence does not require anonymity- constructive criticism is always appreciated and carries more weight with a name behind it. for example, in diogenes’ posting below, “Dancing with Zemsky, Inc.” he warns us of a close connection between what he reads into zemski’s writings and into jacobs’ pronouncements and his own interpretation of the BOT’s positions. that is a good warning and certainly subject for debate, here or elsewhere. the only need for anonymity comes in the language he uses. the debate should be around two points:

do zemsky, Jacobs, and the BOT really think of “a perfect world where ideally the managerial demands for a skilled workforce are finally met by a thoroughly privatized higher-education machine that supplies skilled droids promptly in response to these demand.” and

will TLA in its facilitation of the college assessment “take [us] to a mystical place in his zealot mind of [this] perfect world.”

i think that is a vast oversimplification of zemsky’s writings and most of the BOT’s feelings about higher education. most CEOs will tell you that they want employees at all levels who can think critically for themselves and make their voices heard within the company. of course there are very famous exceptions in various whistleblower cases. when one actually sits down and talks with these people, including Jacobs, one finds that the conversation is interesting and thoughtful. now, i know that as far as contract negotiations were concerned, the administration often did something different from their conversation. i also know that the BOT and jacobs have concerns about streamlining the curriculum. but, the assessment process as documented by TLA provides an ideal environment for our voices to be heard. if we take the path of refusing to participate as diogenes suggests, we deserve what we get. cynicism is fine in its place, but not to the point of disengagement simply on the basis of cynicism. we will have plenty of opportunity to scream if the assessment report either misquotes the roundtable discussion (which TLA would be foolish to do), or if the administration refuses to engage with that part of the report that it does not like. the assessment will make our concerns public in a way that the administration cannot pretend it did not hear.

now, back to the blog- I am sure that most readers know that blog postings only represent the minds of the individual posters. however, when a forum designed for council expression becomes dominated by the voices of one or two people using virulent or sarcastic language under the cover of anonymity, it can be, and probably is, interpreted as “the nature of the A&S council at UT” by the outside world whether we like it or not. those of us in council know what council is like. this blog, plus the published minutes (which are much more difficult to find and much less lurid to boot), is all that the outside sees. some people will say “great- they believe in freedom of speech and give the naysayers a forum” others will say “who are these people? children?” we will have discussion and vote as to how to proceed at out next council session. suggestions are welcome.

1 comment:

MikeP said...

Blogs are certainly a useful way to have a conversation, and this one can be useful, especially for individuals who are not and cannot attend regular council meetings.

I would encourage you to continue with it, but without the option of posting anonymously.