Wednesday, September 01, 2010

An Outside Look at the Inside

Today was one of those days in which you get to see your profession from the outside. I am on a committee that approves courses and the committee had to make a decision on one today. The proponent of the course, not active on the full faculty, was there. The course proposal came with a proposed cap of 24 students. When asked about the cap the first reason offered was it mean being exempt from the curve so the proponent would not be confronted by angry students. When that became awkward, the second reason was too many papers to grade. That did not carry much weight so the third rationale was that it was better for the students. Interesting that the course was on ethics.

But I have no reason to question the ethics of the proponent. In fact, quite the opposite. The insight relates to the proponent's perception of the faculty. The view evidently was that we thought not contending with "angry students" was a good solid reason to cap the course. And, if that failed, then surely too many papers to grade would appeal to the ethics of the faculty. In short, this relative outsider had the courage to tell us who he thought we were -- decisions were made for our convenience.

I found it uncomfortable. Maybe others did.

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