Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

UTAS: Conceit and deceit

*Pic of David Sadler from UTAS, HERE

The UTAS response to having the highest first year attrition rates in Australia is a mix of conceit and deceit.

The Grattan Institute report showed a 42% drop-out rate in Tasmania, twice the national average yet the response of the University’s deputy vice-chancellor, Prof David Sadler was positively comedic.

He admitted the expanded online program, which had risen from 3000 in 2010 to 12,000 in 2015, had contributed to the attrition rate but this had been in the area aimed at people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, “that part of the enterprise which is squarely focused on our social mission”.

This kind of pious prattle is common UTAS rhetoric, cloaking failure in the Emperors’ raiment.

The shift to on-line and other delivery is aimed simply at staff reduction and cost containment and is nothing more noble than that. To suggest that drop-outs are a by-product of a ‘social mission’ aimed at those of lower socio-economic backgrounds is a cruel deceit.

Further scrutiny reveals that the shift to online and other delivery is more pronounced in the North and North-West where staff reductions have led to plummeting enrolments as well as higher attrition rates.

In a conceit and arrogance that could only emanate from an organisation with its head buried in Hobart. Launceston and the North-West are lumped together as ‘lower socio-economic’, benighted ‘natives’ to be ‘missionised’.

However deluded the intent, the fact is that for programs aimed at social disadvantage to succeed personal delivery and pastoral concern is essential. Real teachers; real learning.

And yet all the grand assurances that no degree courses will be cut in the North is entirely based on the provision of on-line, video-link and other delivery platforms – not staff – an ‘outreach’ program from Hobart at minimum cost and staffing.

These are the realities inherent in the findings of the Grattan Institute report which illustrates the university’s expansion of online and other deliveries has little to do with noble aims … but rather with crude cost-cutting, simple conceit and deceit.

*There is a bio of Dr Michael Powell HERE: Andrew Nikolic Chucks a Wobbly

• lola moth in Comments: Having recently retired, I was looking forward to doing some adult education courses which I never found time for whilst working. I soon discovered that not only were there very few courses on offer but that nearly all of them were online. If I want to learn about a subject to pass a written test then online learning is ok but if I want a clear understanding of the subject I need the inter-action of not only a teacher but of other students as well. For me, the classroom environment is just as important as the text book. If I had to start my education again now by sitting in front of a screen in my PJ’s and drinking tea all day, I would most likely be classed as special needs and unteachable.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Simon Warriner

    September 20, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    “And one of the silliest and saddest symptoms? ‘Trigger warnings’ so that today’s weak-minded undergrads don’t get ‘offended’ by a cerebrally challenging idea. Mental wimps. ”

    Have to say I am conflicted on that. That would previously have been my response, and vigorously so, but having now a victim of workplace bullying as a partner, (thanks to our wonderfully managed public service), I now see that “trigger” events can be serious incidents for those who are primed by past events to respond to them, and those “trigger” events can result in a re-experiencing of trauma that is extremely debilitating and very hard for both the victim and those around the victim to put up with.

    The problem, for me, is that “trigger” avoidance is being used as an excuse for not having real discussions about how to deal with the dirty ends of those turds that regularly float into view by those who seem to profit from having our communal space fouled by said turds.

  2. oh-owe

    September 20, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    The bit I find hard to comprehend is that our local ‘representatives’ seem to be happy to sell out our population to under-degree level classes.

    The North is obviously provincial and all state support goes south.

  3. Leonard Colquhoun

    September 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    And, Pete, what a conceited wanker that guy was in your Comment 11 who “said he would not give me a perfect score because he was not capable of getting a perfect score, and somehow that meant that no one else should”! Had he never heard of Nadia Comăneci?

    And, yes Jill, in your 13: “brilliant, I’m jealous I didn’t think of that wording” – but thanks to recent & current IT technology and Linz & his IT elves, we get to share it. One of the beauties of having been a teacher of English in middle secondary to HSC was that each year was a chance to learn to appreciate new writing in new, and newly set, syllabus & exam texts.

    Universities have, by and large, lost their way in three distinct areas:

    ~ they have become so commercialised & corporatised that their managerial employee tails now wag their scholastic dogs, as shown by open entry for cashed up illiterates, innumerates and ignoramuses, and / or for foreigners who’ve not got past page 1 of “Dick and Jane”; plus, partly as a consequence . . .

    ~ getting arses on seats and faces fronting screens by the ‘000s now outranks leading young adult learners to the enlightening heights of scholarship; and worse . . .

    ~ they have reverted to their late Mediaeval modus docendi, which was to keep the learned professions in thrall to the RC doctrinal ideology of scholasticism (note: not to be confused with ‘scholarship’), with a general Green / Left set of PC dogmas now the quasi-official mindset.

    Much (most?) of the thinking which produced our civilisation’s crowning glories of the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment was done outside its contemporary academia – and the same is occurring now. More power to these new radicals and their challenging the dogmatism of the current cerebrally comatose and unscholarly Left.

    Link – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/janet-albrechtsen/free-speech-inimical-to-lefts-stifling-orthodoxies/news-story/9ac13de3b4bc63f481ba3dc958123821 .

    And one of the silliest and saddest symptoms? ‘Trigger warnings’ so that today’s weak-minded undergrads don’t get ‘offended’ by a cerebrally challenging idea. Mental wimps.

  4. Jill Koshin

    September 20, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Just love Mike Powell’s writing. Utas and its “cloaking failure in the Emperors’ raiment” – brilliant, I’m jealous I didn’t think of that wording.
    And he sums up the Utas attitude and its own failings so well.

  5. Lynne Newington

    September 14, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    My introduction to a Tafe Foundation Skill course after years being a stay at home mum was the request for the class to submit our date of birth so the male teacher could consult whatever superstitious chart he had to learn more about us……not that he disclosed that purpose at the time.
    Nothing would surprise me any more.

  6. Leonard Colquhoun

    September 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Pete, how about the sack? (One of the huge costs of improving what happens in classrooms is that of teaching current teachers the basics of their classroom subjects, and training them in classroom & allied skills – just waiting for them to retire or die off is not a practical option. Neither, I s’pose, is the sack.)

    Margaret tells a story about when one of her children showed her some Yr 8 or 9 writing which had scored a tick and an ‘A’ (but not a single comment, praiseworthy or otherwise), despite being full of misspellings and wrong grammar – and this escalated into a typical 1970s / 80s parent <> teacher classic:

    ~ parent reads child’s written work, asks about the misspellings, and is told that the teacher said ‘Don’t worry about that stuff’;

    ~ parent corrects misspellings, sends item back to teacher with curt but courteous enquiry;

    ~ teacher sends item back with several of the corrected spellings re-corrected – wrongly, of course, with a tone of ‘Don’t you know who I am’.

    The standard explanation for this dereliction of duty went like this: ‘correct’ (aka conventional / conservative / ‘fascist’) spelling kills off children’s creativity^. Despite Margaret’s pre-boomer pedantry, child turned out to be literate with creativity still intact.

    ^ Bet none of these frauds put themselves in the hands of illiterate lawyers or doctors.

  7. Pete Godfrey

    September 12, 2016 at 11:35 am

    #10 Leonard here is a question for you. I would like your take on this one.
    As a Student at TAFE and also later as a Mature Age Student doing post trade qualifications I managed to grasp my subject matter well.
    During one of my post trade courses I got every question right in an end of year examination.
    The teacher of that class said he would not give me a perfect score because he was not capable of getting a perfect score, and somehow that meant that no one else should.
    There was another time that the person who set the exam actually gave the wrong answer to the question he set. I was the only person who managed to pick up his faulty answer. Fortunately our teacher questioned me as to how I came to my answer. He too saw that the answer given on the marking paper was wrong.
    It ended up that I was given a correct mark and so were the others who agreed with the exam setting person. In that case I was hoping for a 105% mark, fat chance eh.
    Just wondering what your take on that teachers attitude is.

  8. Leonard Colquhoun

    September 12, 2016 at 3:42 am

    Like this in Comment 8, “If I did not know the answer to a question, I thought was right to say so and to suggest that we look it up”, and it is a sign of a teacher’s confidence in her / his mastery of a subject, and the consequent confidence that each class will put an “I don’t know” or “Not sure about that” in tat context.

    In a related but different matter, ‘projects’ and ‘assignments’, which poorly or under-prepared teachers are tempted to use to cover subject nescience (looks nicer than ‘ignorance’), actually need a higher level of such knowledge, for being less structured their trajectories are less predictable and thus need a broader and deeper teacher knowledge and understanding.

  9. Claire Gilmour

    September 11, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I wanted to go back to school to learn drafting and architecture, so I could get a well paid job in something I love and have experience in – building design and construction.

    I was told I had to be already employed in the ‘industry’ even if only the ‘tea’ lady in some such business to be accepted into such a course.

    So much for us ‘oldies’ (I’m nearly 50) with experience being given (not) a chance to grow.

    Back to painting/decorating and landscaping/gardening/farming … until my back completely breaks I guess!

    Or I’m fooled into one of those ‘shady’ online courses which give me no proper qualification.

  10. Pete Godfrey

    September 11, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    #7 The big BUT is correct Leonard. I did know my subjects, I studied them, prepared all the lessons and exams before I started teaching the subjects.
    Every now and then I would need to look further, but always took the students with me. If I did not know the answer to a question, I thought was right to say so and to suggest that we look it up.
    The field of electricity (which I taught) is a varied subject. I would not expect anyone to know everything about it.
    I did have it put to me once that I was the teacher and was supposed to know everything about the subject. My answer was that I could have bullshitted them and given them any answer and they would not have know the difference. Instead I chose to look to the textbooks and find the real answer.
    I think honesty is also a good lesson to teach as is humility.

  11. Leonard Colquhoun

    September 11, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Shrewd point in Comment 5, “One of the best lessons I learnt from being a teacher was to never think that I was the smartest person in the room”; applicable to how 95% of teachers should see themselves in their classrooms, too.

    But – and this is Very Big BUT which is often (usually?) ignored (and even derided) – 95% of teachers should be able to see themselves as the most knowledgeable about their teaching subjects in their classrooms – because, FFS, they are supposed to be! (Otherwise why are they pocketing 80 grand a year?)

  12. lola moth

    September 11, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Having recently retired, I was looking forward to doing some adult education courses which I never found time for whilst working. I soon discovered that not only were there very few courses on offer but that nearly all of them were online. If I want to learn about a subject to pass a written test then online learning is ok but if I want a clear understanding of the subject I need the inter-action of not only a teacher but of other students as well. For me, the classroom environment is just as important as the text book. If I had to start my education again now by sitting in front of a screen in my PJ’s and drinking tea all day, I would most likely be classed as special needs and unteachable.

  13. Pete Godfrey

    September 11, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I was a TAFE teacher in the past. I can understand why the attrition rates for online courses are so high. Many people need the presence of a teacher to guide them in their learning, to encourage them and to show them other ways to take in the information.
    People take in information in different ways, some of my trade students could just grasp the knowledge by seeing the maths on the white board, some needed to see a practical experiment and some needed to put the whole thing together themselves and see it work.
    I do not believe that an online course can cater to all those different styles of learning, nor can it offer encouragement and support for struggling students who just need to be guided towards understanding.
    One of the best lessons I learnt from being a teacher was to never think that I was the smartest person in the room.
    Involving all the class in problem solving was much more fun, far more productive and faster.
    How can that be done online?

  14. mike seabrook

    September 11, 2016 at 1:32 am

    face it – the establishment and their cronies and insiders looting of the public wealth and special deals ( along with payoffs, questionable deals etc.) is facing disruption world wide and the business models viability is suspect and this disenchantment and response seems to be speeding up – viz one nation, lambies, brexit, europe, china and trump in 5 weeks time.

  15. Phil Lohrey

    September 10, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    I think estimates for campus relocations up North vary up to and beyond $250 million. That’s a heck of a lot for bricks and mortar!

    Investment of this order would finance a lot of tutors, courses and extra places for students – or expand outreach, support and transition programs to help turn around attrition rates.

    Or even help rescue diminishing health services.

    What is this preoccupation with new buildings?

    Logic escapes one, unless the Chamber of Commerce and building and equipment contractors have lobbied with spectacular success.

    Perhaps multi-million-dollar electoral promises have dictated priorities.

    Low participation and high attrition rates seem poles apart from the much publicised push for relocations.

  16. Simon Warriner

    September 10, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I am not sure exactly why it is, but there seems to be a cluelessness that creeps into the thinking of people whose jobs lack any direct and objective measurements of productivity. That cluelessness seems to increase exponentially as the society peaks.

    That cluelessness is currently evident in the conduct of the coroner’s inquest Paul Tapp wrote about, it is exemplified here, and in the recent comment by Mark Smith from Diary Tas about the need for continued dairy conversions to increase supply in an obviously oversupplied dairy industry. It was certainly evident in the conduct of MG and Fonterra executives.

    The Hydro seems to have a repository of it in its upper management ranks. You see it from our political class, and from all manner of salaried trough snufflers in the public service. Bureaucracy and the corporate world is riddled with it.

    What human history tells us is that the productive classes whose efforts pay for this have a finite tolerance for nonsense. Exceed that and those responsible are evicted, one way or another.

  17. TV Resident

    September 10, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    And UTAS plan on building elaborate new buildings in the North and North West??? Who is going to use them???? Total waste of taxpayers money as well as duping the LCC ratepayers by the donation of publicly owned land instead of selling at market value. Councils fanciful whims are the reason our rates are sky rocketing. My rates in Prospect (LCC area) are more than double what my sister pays in her upmarket Adelaide suburb and her services are better.

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