Two things

On her blog, dr calls Eila’s school “Hippie School” and I think I’ll pick up that nomenclature here.  Not that the teachers are strung out, or big on daisies or anything.  Just that the ethos is less rigid than at most schools.  The idea is to treat children like relatively rational beings but not to push them too far into conformity — and if that sounds like what everyone’s trying it must be that Hippie School’s trying harder and succeeding better.  The children are treated with respect at every moment, and addressed on issues that may be beyond their current understanding and outside their current interests in ways that are engaging and draw them in — and damn if it doesn’t work and isn’t returned.  In a slightly different vein, two things I’ve noticed recently are (a) that no “ouch report” goes home for a bump on the head, and (b) that Eila is allowed to wear flip-flops.  I like both these things, but it’s only just occurred to me why.  Because they mean the school is not concerned about liability.  They do not expect to be sued.

This is unprecedented in this liability-crazy society.  This week I was delegated the task of drafting up some “learning outcome goals” (pleuh, pleuh, excuse me while I wash my tongue) for my department to post on the college website — this as a request from the administration who, in turn, is under pressure from the accreditation board on the issue of accountability.  Got that?  Who cares?  The thing is, as the drafter, I was handed a statement about liability.  Because there’s some fear that a disgruntled ex-student might see our department’s “learning outcome goals” as a contract and sue us if she doesn’t feel we filled her brain with what we promised.

Hippie school has looked this issue right in the midriff and announced that it has no clothes.  And indeed, no one is going to sue them for an unacknowledged lump on the head, because we all love them.  And we love them because they aren’t all freaked out about matters indifferent.  See?  An upward spiral is possible.

While I’m doing twos, here are two things that you don’t have in a new house to which you didn’t take quite everything from the old house: (1) hangers, and (2) bookmarks.  I’ve solved the first problem but the second isn’t as easy — because you don’t go to target and buy a batch of bookmarks, you accumulate them lovingly over the years.  All our books are now stuffed with socks and origami.

And — a spurious twosome — here’s another word that means a thing and its opposite: oversight. If we only had oversight we wouldn’t have so much oversight!

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9 thoughts on “Two things

  1. By coincidence, I was about to try to figure out exactly what ‘learning outcomes’ are. Now that my full dept. and my college have approved my course title and description change, a year after I proposed them, it turns out that the university senate has new paperwork. What learning outcomes might I promise for 13 weeks of Indian Buddhism? +A = Nirvana, B = Entry into the Stream that leads to Nirvana?

  2. Working familiarity with key concepts/theorists in area of x.

    Be exposed to x methodologies/ approaches, and begin to form an understanding of how they might be integrated.

    Learn to analyse material culture and apply it to contextualize textual study.

    S**t like that I guess. You could also grab a little piece of high ground and hang on. Our department refuses to take out its lines about challenging preconceptions about religions and broadening horizons, or critically examining their own cultural lenses.

    Our main problem was that we wrote a 10 page report that we liked, but it turns out what they want is half a page of point form, which is basically impossible and will come out crap.

  3. A first year grad school study partner had an A+ GPA from an ivy league school. I had a B+ GPA from a big state school The homework problem sets were all review for me and new to her. She was so mad, she wanted to sue her alma mater for malpractice or at least have tuition refunded.

    Had there been a learning outcome goal at her school, she could have introduced it as evidence. Either the goal was not reached, or it was set too low.

    Big state school taught one class for graduate students AND upper division students. We used graduate texts and were graded on a curve against graduate students. It was sink or swim. Graduate classes were a breeze after that.

  4. oh oh oh, it’s all clear to me now. As someone explained to me just last week, a whole gaggle of new admin types with a risk manangement jones are making mischief ’round these parts. Mounds of paperwork and other regulations now around group fieldwork in the sciences to indemnify the school. It’s apparently encumbent upon fieldgroup leaders to make sure that participants don’t drink ‘on the clock’ for fear that they harm themselves and subsequently sue the school.

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