Re: The school game

Marcy Bauman (marcyb@UMD.UMICH.EDU)
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 10:12:16 -0400

On Tue, 13 Aug 1996, Eric Crump wrote:

> Yeah, Richard, we're not so far apart, but I'm still ok with thwarting. I
> think that's the position we (as perpetrators of the system) put students
> in. They do it in all sorts of ways (the first third of Holt's book
> covers ((almost said 'about' but I know Steve would have had to whack me
> for that!)) strategies students use to survive school, not learn,
> survive).

Eric, I think you're talking about a different kind of thwarting
than the kind I mean, and certainly a different kind than I saw in Mick's
student. And I agree with you: lots of the behaviors that look to us
like recalcitrance and laziness and not caring really are manifestations
of anxiety -- anxiety perpetuated by a system where every breath you take
is evaluated, ranked, and judged. But Mick's student -- and I, in that
high school history class -- were doing a sort of hyper-thwarting, a sort
of cleverer-than-thou manipulating that, if teachers reward, simply
reinscribes the whole system that creates anxiety in other people.


Marcy Bauman
Writing Program
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128

Web page:

>From "MRGATE::\"A1::CERVANTES, JIM\"" Tue Aug 13 09:18:40 1996
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Date: Tue, 13 Aug 1996 07:18:35 -0700 (MST)
Subject: Re: Netoric and Corporate Ed. (fwd)
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>The college at
>which I teach has recently undertaken an emphasis on TQM

Ah, Kurt, it is happening everywhere. I am perticularly depressed going into
this semester because of the state of affairs your post outlines. The problem
is NO ONE talks about it or does anything about it, which is what, I think,
THEY are banking on. "TQM" or "QQ" ("Quantum Quality" aka Quantam Quackery)
profess to run things from the bottom up, but as yet I have failed to see
evidence of any faculty input in the headlong rush into the corporate model,
aided and abetted by technology. It is ironic that there are threads on the
list celebrating "work," when in fact "work" is disappearing from the bottom
up, like the little cursor deleting as it works its way to the top of the
message. The lucky one amongst us is John Gilgun, who will be out of it before
the screen goes blank.

- Jim

Kurt Neuman wrote:

>I assume that most of you have read about the topic for Tuesday night's
>Netoric Cafe. Well, I think it's time that people interested in higher
>education begin discussing this corporate model of education. The college at
>which I teach has recently undertaken an emphasis on TQM, and among other
>things the result has been one, that instruction in, say, business writing
>that is held at a corporation is outsourced--that is, Corp. Services Div.
>does not use the instructors of the College; and two, that the faculty is
>going to strike this semester because the administration refuses to offer
>pay increases because its bottom line is not what it could be.

>But the problem is more fundamental. Here are three fallacies upon which
>the move to model education after the corporate model is based:

>1. That a corporation is less of a beaurocracy than a university. Anyone
>who has had any experience with a large corporation--ie, a corporation that
>is a large as an average university--knows that such a corporation makes the
>US government look like a sole proprietorship in the way it handles
>administrative requests.

>2. A university has something to sell. If this were so, then it would not
>matter what is taught; it would only matter how well an instructor sells
>that material. The English course as AB-Flex; the HSN of curriculum
>offerings. Truly, we could sell grades, since, as Eric Crump has said, they
>have no value but they matter. Isn't that the best way to describe
>something like the Barcalounger? If it were true that all the products of a
>capitalist enterprise were valuable, then everything from space shuttles to
>dental floss would be indispensable to our existence. Intelligence,
>learning, history, and the arts are not commodities.

>3. The corporation is a more democratic model that the teacher/student,
>novice/master model of the university. The corporation is the most
>un-democratic institution on earth. It is, properly called, a capitalist
>institution. Thus, corporations succeed as well, if not better, in China
>than they do in the US. Corporations the size of an average university are
>racist, sexist, and ageist. As soon as the Personnel Department became the
>Human Resources Department--which, mind you, was a demand by corporation
>that universities gave in to in order to broaden the scope of the course
>catalogue--all conception of democracy or shared governance went out with
>the bathwater.

>Please, let's talk about this one. As artists and instructors, we should be
>able to examine the absurdity of this situation. Obviously, many
>instructors are looking for the words and arguments to counter these
>fallacies. It is up to those who create to create those words and arguments
>for all of us.

>Kurt Neumann