Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Blind Men and the Curriculum Review. From Dr. Amelia.

So we are looking at the hamster fur curriculum here at Our Lady of Lost Causes, and the meetings are about to kill me. Allow me to demonstrate:

Curriculum committee guy: Ok, so here's the notes from our last meeting.

Colleague 1: Oh, I don't agree with that at all. We need to be broadening into chinchilla fur bracelets. Our students don't know anything about chinchilla fur. They don't even know chinchillas are mammals. And fashion week it was wall-to-wall chinchillas. Our students won't be able to get jobs.

Curriculum committee guy: Yes, colleague 1, I know you feel that way. See, here's your opinion in the notes on pages 1, 2, 3 and 5.

Colleague 1: What about page 4? What's all this stuff about the Cebu Warty Pig?

Colleague 2: Hey? The Cebu Warty Pig has been a part of hamster fur weaving since 1959. It's the basics of the field.

Curriculum committee guy: It's just the minutes. We're showing everyone's in...

Colleague 1: Well, we could always poll our students and ask them how much pig fur they are weaving with in the field.

Colleague 2: 1959. You can't understand 2013 without 1959.

Colleague 1: When's the last time you wore pig? Even chinchillas don't wear pig.

I think I passed out at that point.


  1. You know, somewhere there is a professor who studies hamster fur. I hope he never finds this page. He would be so pissed off.

  2. I'm so glad I'm not on that committee anymore.

  3. if you were to add "I demand that [crazy prof who lives to create shit storms] join the committee, or I'm going to the Vice-President and create my own shit storm" (committee member and crazy prof are best buds and think alike as Sith Lords, but the first is the apprentice and the second the master), then you'd be describing a committee I sit on.

    1. "think alike as Sith lords" it. May I steal it?

  4. All of our department meetings are like this. We agree on something, then we come back to discuss details, and find out that we didn't actually agree at all and so now have to reopen the previous discussion, and a crucial vote has now (mysteriously, without any lobbying outside meetings, why that would be ILLEGAL) changed sides so we now have to do the opposite thing from what we decided before. 3 times in the last six meetings.

  5. Wow, this also captures our weekly department meetings. I'm dreading those starting...

  6. Committees are good places to kill bad curricular ideas. But you have to do it artfully, without pontificating about "principles".

    Being in math committees is not so bad. There is only one old-timer in the dept enamored of his own voice and "contributions", and it is known the two of us shouldn't be in the same room. The rest of us seem to take pride in avoiding useless verbiage. Nobody talks, unless suddenly moved by a new thought.

    So, it went like this: first you praise the general idea, with a slightly weaker formulation than proposed. That's an epsilon hole. Then somebody picks up on that, supporting the weaker version. That's a two-epsilon hole. By the end of the hour the original thing is unrecognizable, in tatters; and nobody had to actually attack it. Okay, now we can talk about the new, watered-down version.