Monday, December 05, 2005

Until Further Notice

meetingsUntil further notice, the following words and phrases are banned from common usage in all academic committee meetings:

  • "Culture of Assessment." Oxymoronic concoction that endows a vague concept ("assessment") with hitherto undeserved anthropological dignity. Synonymous with addition of new layers of qualitative and quantitative evaluations, descending like a toxic fog throughout the academic institution; requires ever-expanding web of uncompensated labor from faculty and staff, generating self-congratulatory glee from administrators and accrediting agencies. (e.g., "How can we promote a culture of assessment on this campus?")
  • "Nourish." Vapid, organic metaphor used to disguise the artificial intrusion of soul-depleting, carbohydrate-rich innovations into the lives of university employees and patrons. (e.g., "It is important for us to nourish a culture of assessment on this campus.")
  • "Faculty-driven." Deceitful neologism typically used ex post facto by administrators in reference to processes universally abhorred by faculty and implemented with or without their actual consent. (e.g., "Now that we've moved to a system of on-line student evaluations, we need to ensure that the process is faculty-driven." See also "faculty buy-in.")
  • "Learning communities." Feel-good sop used by various groups claiming to oppose the bureaucratic partitioning and patterned isolation of higher education into "instructor-driven environments" such as "disciplines," "departments," and "classes." De-emphasizes "content" in favor of "process" and "experience." (e.g., "When our students skip class, smoke dope and play X-Box 360, perhaps they're simply yearning for more rewarding learning communities at this university.")
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