Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Marking to the mean exerts downward pressure on the mean."

Obscene and hilarious (and nothing new):

"You finally get that tenure-track job and then you discover this!"
(1) “Teaching counts for nothing.” It was a shock to me how dishonest research schools are about teaching: on the brochures, to parents, in official pronouncements the line is that we care about teaching deeply. But in private all my colleagues, even at the official orientation, have said teaching counts for virtually nothing for tenure purposes, for merit raises, etc. (Exception: if your student evaluations are truly awful that might hurt a bit.) In other words, there is hardly any institutional concern for teaching, i.e. concern that manifests itself in aligning incentive structures with good teaching. It’s not 50-50 research/teaching, it’s 100-0 or maybe 90-10. Experiment: try explaining to your non-academic friends, neighbors, legislators that our top universities basically ignore teaching in their evaluation of teachers. I often wonder whether our actual policies could survive publicity.
"Does teaching matter at (American) research universities?"
The second link is Harry Brighouse and he begins with a quote
Critics of higher education, and to some extent higher education itself, have misunderstood the core business of these institutions. Whereas most believe the task of universities and colleges is to supply quality educations at reasonable prices, their real business is to sell competitive advantage at necessarily high prices.
So there simply isn’t much market pressure to improve instruction (the fact that the fruits of growth over that period have largely accrued to the small group of people who are buying this essentially positional good for their children makes it even less puzzling).
Remember that it's Brighouse, following G.A. Cohen, who thinks that socialism means developing an intellectual "technology" that will remove the weight of moral responsibility from our heads. The answer is not in better people, or even better behavior as such, but in manipulating the rabble -Brighouse and Cohen can't be referring to themselves, can they? - to produce the right result. This is linked in the last post as well:
"Performativity is the idea that theories or models bring about the very conditions that they attempt to explain."
So would a common understanding that greed is even vaguely immoral not have an effect on behavior? And would a focus, as distinct from the fact, that it's a common trait not tend to have the opposite effect? But the focus on the universality of self-interest is defended because of the focus on individualism and the sense that individual freedom is a moral value, even if we know that freedom encourages greed which we must find a cure for but only by inventing a machine to make us unfree. It's The Forbin Project as utopia.

I was raised by teachers to respect teaching: to think of it as a noble calling. "So there simply isn’t much market pressure." It's also that teachers don't want to teach. But reading the above, free will and all moral responsibility, happily have been removed from the equation.

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