Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Core Competencies?

As I stare over the new UT Core Experience that Dr. Pryor has placed before the BOT, I am reminded of the traveler in Ireland who asked directions of a local. The response was, “If I wanted to go there, I would not start out from here.” The “here” in this case is what appears to be the unalterable belief in the goodness of technology for the education of our students. Let me add another cliché to the mix: “You can lead a student to an education, but you can’t make them think.” No matter how you package whatever it is you are putting together, it is still incumbent on the student to work at it. We seem to treat all our educational problems as if technology will solve them by, as one administrator is supposed to have said, “Putting teaching back in the classroom.” Please allow me several comments:

1.) I have no idea where teaching supposedly went or how exactly technology is going to bring it back
2.) While the audience may assume I am Luddite by nature, this does not mean that I fail to use the available technology. I teach on-line and have used computers and the Internet in classrooms for some time now. It makes for a certain convenience but not necessarily for a smarter student or a better educational environment. I will note here that some major law schools have banned laptops in the classroom because students have ceased to pay attention to the professor.
3.) If we have narrowed the core competencies as was stated in the press release, what got left out? I would like to see the original list.
4.) Again there is this great belief in the ability to measure the learning of humans. The Higher Learning Commission wants this, the Governor wants this, Deans, Provosts and College Presidents want this. Given that we have been at assessment for over thirty years, one might assume that it is necessary. It is not. There has been no great leap forward in higher education. Administrators keep promising some form of measured achievement and we, the faculty, will be the fall guys in this process. The measurement of human activity/learning is incredibly difficult under the best circumstances. This is particularly true in the Humanities and to some degree in the Social Sciences. How does one measure ethical decision making? And, how does one measure the difference between a 90 percent and an 80 percent on such measurement. Is such a differentiation even meaningful?
5.) How much have we spent on assessment and technology over the last thirty years? Where has it gotten us?


N. Damus said...

The dismal campus "climate" for students, faculty and staff lacks any credible motivation to produce except fear. "Core competencies" will not motivate productivity by anyone except the private companies that will benefit from distance learning outsourcing of the UT teaching mission.

Wake up everyone and sack Jacobs, this BOT, and their entire conspiracy of the privatization of local public education under their mindless Orwellian mantra of "Improving the Human Condition"
aka "take this bitter pill and trust me!"

Do you realize that if this present Jacobsian insanity persists that UT in five years will be a corporate "charter university" instead of a state public institution of higher education. Read this:


If it sounds like where you want this university to go then out of greed or ignorance you have lost touch with the Spirit of American democracy and sold your soul to that devil named "plutocracy."

Anonymous said...

I have also banned laptops in my class because they offer students too many opportunities for distraction. I periodically say to my class:"Look here. Pay attention to me." How else can they learn?

As for UT's financial problems and the need to save money, don't believe a word they say, notice what they do. From the UT update, March 1: "The University of Toledo Medical Center will convert patient rooms from semi-private to private and add two operating rooms with a $25 million investment approved last week by the Board of Trustees Finance Committee."

Did you know we have $25 Million available? I thought we had a huge budget deficit. Wasn't it $100 Million? Faculty will be asked to teach 5/5, and take a 10% pay cut, and pay more for health insurance.

As I have said before, it's a re-allocation plan, not a cost savings plan. Wake up, people.

Anonymous said...

Tunisia, Cairo, Libya, Wisconsin, Columbus, Toledo...all the same connection tyrants trying to have their way with the people flexing their muscles and getting their way because they control the money...let's stop this!

Anonymous said...

See, arguments would be stronger if we stopped shooting ourselves in the foot confusing capital money with operating budgets.

The $25 million comes from issuing debt. Maybe that's a bad call, but confusing debt with operating budgets just serves to highlight to administrators that the admin is correct, faculty don't understand how the budget works.

Anonymous said...

to anon5:05

Where does it say that they are going to issue debt? Do you have insider information, because I didn't read that anywhere. Besides, doesn't debt have to be paid back? It's not free money. BTW - I definitely understand budgets better than most people. That's why I don't believe what they say.

Anonymous said...

I know this is unrelated to the present post, but after having read President Jacobs letter of support for the Ohio law proposal gutting union rights, I have found this:
1924: Stalin bans all free trade unions and outlaws strikes.
1929: Mussolini guts trade unions and puts them under corporate and government control.
1933: Hitler abolishes collective bargaining, trade unions and arrests their leaders.
Good luck to everyone!

Anonymous said...

“Deprived of his trade unions, collective bargaining, and the right to strike, the German worker in the Third Reich became an industrial serf, bound to his master, the employer, much as medieval peasants had been bound to the Lord of the manor.”
(“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” (Shirer) p 362-63)

Hitler succeeded in doing what Gov. Walker and Kasich are attempting to do: eliminate collective bargaining by law.

Through the “Charter of Labor” Act of 1934, Hitler “put the worker in his place and raised the status of employer to absolute master”.
The employer became the Master, the unquestioned “Leader of the Enterprise”, while employees were denigrated to mere peasant status (“gefolgschaft”), in the actual language of Hitler’s anti-union law.

The Nazis ‘Charter of Labor’ law stated that “the leader of the enterprise (the employer) makes the decisions for the employees and laborers in all matters concerning the enterprise”!
Wages were set by a group of employers known as “labor trustees”.
(Doesn't anyone notice the affinity with the UT trustees?)

Anonymous said...

Jacobs must go. He is not an academic and was never qualified to be President of a public university. Now, instead of fighting for more support for UT from the state (whose contribution to University funding has been steadily decreasing) he has stabbed the University (and unions) in the back with his letter supporting SB5, written to Kevin Bacon, Chair of the Ohio Senate Insurance, Commerce, and Labor Committee. While there might be circumstances where unions would temporarily reduce the "flexibility" of a University President to "optimize" costs by merging functions carried out on two recently merged campuses (Health Science Campus and Main Campus), significant cost optimization has already occurred during the past few years and was one of the main motivations for the merger between the two institutions (e.g. University of Toledo and Medical University of Ohio). Throwing out the rights of unions to support fair treatment of faculty and staff, as well as academic standards, is permanent and is throwing out the baby with the bathwater! It is Jacobs who should be thrown out, not the unions.

Anonymous said...

I saw just a few minutes of Tavis Smiley yesterday morning--part of an interview with Mary Bell of Wisconsin. What caught my ear was the phrase about "... a situation where a governor wanted to introduce a piece of legislation under the guise of a budget fix ..."*—and I realized, that same thing is going on here at UT, too: we are being distracted away from the “piece of legislation” Jacobs and the BOT—and the Ohio State Senate—are trying to push through by our focus on bonuses, faculty/staff cuts, possible furloughs, etc. Not that these aren’t important! But the financial aspect is only one of many. OK, so the Ohio State Senate has said we can still negotiate on salaries. And that’s important. But it’s only one step. We can’t afford to say, well, that’s good, that’s enough. We have to stand our ground on the other areas of negotiating that are so vital! And in Jacobs’ letter of February 16, recently brought to our attention, he shows just where he stands: power plays “under the guise of” financial concerns. As someone has already said, we need to sack, boot out, get rid of Jacobs and the BOT. We need to do something, not just talk about it. Talking is an early stage—we should be far beyond that by now.

By the way: Anon 8:51 and 9:27: Your comments are totally related to what’s going on here.

*The transcript of the interview is here:

Anonymous said...

After Scott Scarborough's most recent promotion, we now have:
a surgeon running our school, an accountant running our hospital, and a philosopher running our distance learning/technology. Anybody wonder why we have problems?

Anonymous said...

Ohio SB5 passed in the Senate, landing in the House... prepare for the impact! I just hope there will be a repeal in November...

Anonymous said...

I think we should all do omething like this, all across Ohio--make our voices heard loud and clear, so that the PEOPLE can hear it and know what's going on, and the politicians, despots, and others of their ilk can't just ignore it or hide it or deny it even exists.