Ed Broadbent: Opposing Academic Expresson, Freedoms at the University of Ottawa

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Snert Snert's picture

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There is also no formalized pedogogy mandated by the senate, board of governors or faculties of any major university I know of.

 

Correct. Pedagogy isn't course management.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The remark on the two 10 year olds is from Wikipedia. There is no citation whatsoever.

If it's in Wikipedia does that make it true? lol. I can just imagine what sort of academic Snert would make. lol lol lol

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Classroom Management in lower grades, "course management" in higher grades is part of what teachers do. It can't, practically speaking, be seperated from pedagogy and content in general. It's what teachers do when they teach.

This is getting too easy. Yawn.

Snert Snert's picture

Their names are Sebastian and Douglas Foster.  [url=http://fosters-vs-uo.tripod.com/]Here's[/url] their own web page.

 

Let me know when you think you're ready to do this for yourself.

 

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 I can just imagine what sort of academic Snert would make.

 

And similarly, I can picture what kind of student you would.

 

"Spoon feed me! Someone SPOON FEED ME!!"

Snert Snert's picture

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It can't, practically speaking, be seperated from pedagogy and content in general

 

Of course it can. It is, every day, at every university. Evidently they've done the impossible!

 

I think that "classroom management", as applied to a Grade 5 class, means ensuring that students aren't all running around yelling and throwing paper airplanes.

 

Public schools also handle course management. It's the school, not the teacher, that decides on grading schemes, (eg: numeric or letter), class sizes, and increasingly, even curriculum.

 

Listen, I can see how strongly you feel about this. It's clear that you approve of what Rancourt did, and that you want to support him, but you really don't know what you're talking about. If you think you're making any kind of persuasive case, while clearly just making up things that are not supported by the facts, you're not, and that's probably why you think it's "too easy". In part, it's easy because you've skipped the tedious step of "learning about something before pontificating about it".

Snert Snert's picture

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 I consider Rancourt an activist, and the U of O Senate has proven itself to be disinterested in discourse--that is to say, it isn't interested in democracy.

 

I'm not sure that Rancourt simply doing as he wishes is democracy, nor do I have some specific reason to believe that UofO is disinterested in discourse around grading. This, to me, is like one person sending a letter to the Prime Minister demanding an end to hospital wait times, and upon receiving neither a letter back, nor zero hospital wait times, declaring the the PM has no interest in health care.

 

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Make no mistake: Rancourt taught two small senior-level courses which were not prerequisites. What irrevocable damage are these two classes doing to the University that necessitates such an unprecedented move on the part of the University executive?

 

A university that gives away an A+ to every student who enrols has as much credibility as a sporting competition that encourages steroid use.

 

Interesting factoid: Rancourt's course WAS approved, BY THE SENATE, to run as pass/fail. I'll let N. Beltov post that; he could use the practice.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

It's a shame, really, that considering you actualy have some experience and expertise in this area that you continue to do such a disservice to this discussion by resorting--as you always do, as you always have done--to hyperbole, exaggeration and expressions of contempt for opposing viewpoints and radical politics.

Snert Snert's picture

I reserve the right to all the contempt for radical politics I want.

As for exaggeration, you're really telling me that that's dragging this thread down, and not, say, the massive, embarrasing amount of misinformation paired with inexplicable self-confidence?  If anything -- and I'm not being sarcastic when I say this -- I have a new empathy for posters like Unionist who have to deal with idjits ignorantly asserting that Unions "have to protect members who sleep on the job" or other nonsense that's easily corrected by someone who knows.

To whatever degree you agree or believe that I have some genuine knowledge of how universities work, do you believe that the posters in this thread have been treating that knowledge in good faith?  For a thread about learning, has it been your impression that people want to learn more about this?  I think most of Rancourt's supporters have their minds made up, and it's on the basis of his politics, not on the basis of their understanding of the inner workings of higher education.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

WEll, what's also interesting is that, despite two threads devoted to this topic, Snert has managed to successfully avoid the educational argumetns that Rancourt made from the start. That's quite impressive circambulation around the main point.

I can only conclude, therefore, that there will be no reply or addressing that part of the argument. It's easy to see why.

Bigotry against radical ideas is a dime a dozen. Hell, that's the foundation of conservative ideology since Burke went ballistic over the French Revolution. Silencing dissent is simply a new coat of paint on an old, tired idea. As I said already, yawn.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Snert wrote:

To whatever degree you agree or believe that I have some genuine knowledge of how universities work, do you believe that the posters in this thread have been treating that knowledge in good faith? For a thread about learning, has it been your impression that people want to learn more about this? I think most of Rancourt's supporters have their minds made up, and it's on the basis of his politics, not on the basis of their understanding of the inner workings of higher education.

I call these "arguments to bias": you merely have that opinion because you hold those beliefs. Essentially, someone asserts that there is "political bias" operative above and beyond the evidenced facts, unreasonably swaying someone's opinion. What is missing is that a persons political views (their "bias") may be shaped by their interpretation of the evidence.

It is not an argument. It is a tautological debating ploy intended to finesse an argument without actually presenting a case.

Firstly, to assert that pedagogy needs a formalized system of grading flies in the face of the fact that this would mean that the greatest part of "higher learning" would have to thrown into the wastebasket, since most of it predates systems of grading. In fact "grading" is actually a very new phenomena, and basis of today's higher learning rests upon work produced in an environment without grading. Grading, as a fundamental part of the educational process was invented in the late 18th century, and didn't come into common practice until the beginning of the 19th century.

Albert Einstien, Neils Bohr, Francis Crick, Adam Smith, Hegel and Charles Darwin were never seriously subject to a comprehensive, and standardized system of grading like we know today in our educational institutions -- not even close. We know for a fact that Copernicus and Galileo were not. Never mind Plato.

Standardized grading, in terms of the uniform report card was not introduced in the United States until about 1910. Then as now, its primary function has been to create bureaucratic efficiency, it is not primarily a teaching aid of any kind. It actually has very little to do with pedagogy at all. It is about evaluating the results of pedagogy.

Secondly, the corporatization of higher learning is not some kind of "radical" left wing fantasy. It is something that corporations have loudly and proudly endeavoured to do. They have intervened in the political process to assert a model of education which has as it primary outcome the desire to create graduates who will be successful employee candidates. In fact, they regularly consult with Universities and School Boards to ensure that they are producing graduates with the right set of skills to meet their projected needs for the future labour force.

Grading, is an essential part of evaluating the quality of an employee candidate.

This is no secret: this is a conscious program, and one that is well advertized.

 

Snert Snert's picture

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WEll, what's also interesting is that, despite two threads devoted to this topic, Snert has managed to successfully avoid the educational argumetns that Rancourt made from the start. That's quite impressive circambulation around the main point.

 

I saw his dismissal as being the main point (or in this thread, ostensibly Ed Broadbent's support for that) and Rancourt's opinions about teaching simply aren't relevant to that. Course management doesn't become his responsibility based on whether you or I do or don't agree with his teaching philosophy. Whether his ideas are foolish, genius, or somewhere in between, his university is not obligated in any way to follow them, exonerate his behaviour on the basis of them, or even humour them. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

 

For what it's worth, I'm not entirely in disagreement with him. I've taught an introductory course (don't worry, not PoliSci) and told my students that if it were up to me, I'd run it as a pass/fail course. But it had a partial equivalency to another credit course and had to be graded. My experience was that those students who simply wanted to learn what I had to teach just ignored the grade and did what they did. And those who wanted to use this course as a stepping stone to admission to something else were glad to have the grade. It's not my experience that in the face of assessment, students shut down and can't learn.

 

I find Rancourt's belief that in the presence of assessment, students stop learning and just "try to please the professor" interesting, given that he's a Physics teacher. Shouldn't students want to try to please the teacher by getting the right answer? Physics isn't exactly one of those subjects where "every opinion is valid". And even within those subjects (eg: Comparative Lit.) instructors typically don't grade based on whether a student does or doesn't regurgitate their personal opinion, they grade based on a student's ability to support their own opinion academically, with correct citation, etc.

 

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Grading, is an essential part of evaluating the quality of an employee candidate.

 

It's also an essential part of finding out whether a student did or did not learn. Now if you're just learning for your own sake, you probably don't care whether or not you could demonstrate that you learned something and that's fine. But if you need to convince others (eg: a potential employer) that you did in fact learn something, then being assessed by a university, that is then in a reasonable position to be able to vouch for what you learned, isn't such a bad thing. Lacking (say) a grade in Accounting, a potential employer either has to take your word for it that you know what you're doing, or they can test you themselves (as though that's any better) or they can call your previous employer who can provide a "grade" for your work when you were with them. Of all of those, I don't really see how a transparent and accountable university assessment process is the worst.

 

 

sanizadeh

As someone pointed out before, giving A+ to all students is not necessarily worse than never giving an A+ to any student (the practice by several profs I know). Furthermore, while the university may have the right to demand adherence to certain grading standards,firing a faculty member for grade he has given in one class is ridiculous. Was this happened in more than one semester? Did he get any warning from his dean about it? If this was one occasion, his dean could simply appoint another faculty member to revise the marks.It is obvious his political views played the major role in the firing.

This is not really a CCLA issue though, but CAUT (Canadian Association of UNiversity Teachers). They are on his case. I wonder if their investigation has got anywhere:

http://www.caut.ca/news_details.asp?nid=1258&page=490

 

 

Snert Snert's picture

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It is obvious his political views played the major role in the firing.

 

Certainly his political belief that he should not have to adhere to any kind of institutional standard.

 

If you mean some geopolitical view (eg: support for Palestine) then I think it's far from obvious. Plenty of professors at plenty of universties also support Palestine.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Snert wrote:

Quote:
Grading, is an essential part of evaluating the quality of an employee candidate.

It's also an essential part of finding out whether a student did or did not learn. Now if you're just learning for your own sake, you probably don't care whether or not you could demonstrate that you learned something and that's fine. But if you need to convince others (eg: a potential employer) that you did in fact learn something, then being assessed by a university, that is then in a reasonable position to be able to vouch for what you learned, isn't such a bad thing. Lacking (say) a grade in Accounting, a potential employer either has to take your word for it that you know what you're doing, or they can test you themselves (as though that's any better) or they can call your previous employer who can provide a "grade" for your work when you were with them. Of all of those, I don't really see how a transparent and accountable university assessment process is the worst.

Not only did you manage to repeat what I said about "corporate" grading, but inadvertently, your comparison exactly underscores that chief pedagogic issue relating to systems of evaluation. There is a reason that an employer will almost always be first and foremost swayed bya good reference, rather than good grades, and this is because a performance evaluation from a previous employer will always take into account factors that simply can not be accounted for in a "grading" system.

For example, test scores and the grades that result from those test scores are entirely dependent on the ability to reproduce old methodology. For the most part they have nothing to do with an individuals ability to creatively confront old problems with new tools, or come up with new answers. So for example, a Physics exam based in Newtonian physics would likely fail Albert Einstein, because if he were to apply the General Theory of Relativity to such an exam, he would repeatedly come up with the wrong answers, even though we know they are right... or righter.

We might even be able to pose the idea that what we are really doing in modern university education is recreating a latter day version of Confucian Rote learning.

So, no, an employer evaluation is not a "grade". It is not a generic standardized test, which by its nature most exclude subjective evaluation in order to come up with a usable result. However, an employer evaluation, is much more akin to older systems of evaluating student performance based in "mentoring", where the two most important thing are the reputation of the person giving the evaluation and the their subjective evaluation of the students ability to perform to the standard that the mentor desires, and the advantage of this is obviously that creative and intuitive abilities, above and beyond the simple ability to repeat old methods in order to produce old results.

Whatever you think of that, the point is that there is substantial pedagogic justification for rejecting evaluations based in systemetized "objective" grading systems, and what Denis Rancourt is talking about and doing in his classes is not outside limits of what can be considered legitimate pedagogic discourse. It is just a different school of thought, being applied in the class room.

If one really wanted to get an evaluation of one of his students, and their ability to do any task at hand, one could easily call up Rancourt and ask for a reference.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Cueball wrote:
Not only did you manage to repeat what I said about "corporate" grading, but inadvertently, your comparison exactly underscores that chief pedagogic issue relating to systems of evaluation.

Repeated but, probably, not understood. That's a problem with "banking" and similar educational ideologies - things are repeated back but not properly understood.  This is somewhat amusing, frankly.

And Rancourt noted in his own remarks that many students were challenged by his approach and came to see that, in some regards, they had not even understood the fundamentals of Physics (i.e., 1st year basic mechanics and electricity and magnetism up to Maxwell's equations). It was only in taking this different approach that they came to see any problem at all.

Denis Rancourt

Hello rabble babblers.

I get a sense that many of you would like the following links.

The main web site with background, media links, videos, arbitration ruling, outcomes of grievances, etc. in my academic freedom case.

My UofOWatch blog also has many relevant posts.

Those of you with a "limited" view of the legal concept of academic freedom might enjoy this document which is a legal report about an arbitration award in my case (also on the academic freedom site).

Enjoy.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Thanks for dropping by.

Unionist

Yes, thank you indeed for dropping by, Prof. Rancourt, and for the updated information. Please know that there are many here who have followed your story with sympathy and continue to do so. [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/activism/university-ottawa-vs-activist-prof-deni... is a thread[/url] which points to much of the same information you have referred us to. And I'd like to wish you success in your struggle against persecution and for academic freedom!

 

Snert Snert's picture

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Those of you with a "limited" view of the legal concept of academic freedom might enjoy this document which is a legal report about an arbitration award in my case

Interesting.  But even the judgement seems to agree that course management is the job of the Senate, not individual instructors.  The judgement didn't rule partly in favour of Rancourt because course management is after all the responsibility of individuals, it ruled partly in favour because if found Rancourt's description of the course sufficiently similar to the description approved by the Senate.

So the judgement doesn't affirm any rights of instructors to change a course however they wish to, in the name of academic freedom.  It affirms their right to do so, provided the new course is pretty much the same as the old one.

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