I went to a meeting about advising today. It's a preparatory meeting to help people be better advisers. You can decide for yourselves if I'm being sent for remediation or advanced training. There are more meetings tomorrow and the next day, and we're to be paid. (Now you can decide if I'm doing this for remediation, advanced training, or my budget.)
We spent time going over how things work out from students coming in with AP or test scores or classes from other schools. Much time was spent on how we should look at these scores to know where our students should be.
The thing is, by the time an advisee gets to me, those things have mostly already been set, or once in a while, there's a problem. So I asked, what do I do to solve the problem if there's one? And the answer is, you can't, but you should send the student to the official office of solving problems with AP, test scores, or transfer classes.
So why, I wonder (but did not ask aloud), are we spending an hour on this? My best guess is because it looms large in the mind of the deanling in charge, so he thinks it should loom large for all of us.
He droned on.
We have this computer system that's supposed to help students check their courses and requirements. Let's call it a requirement check, or RC. As advisers, we can pull up the RC (and so can students), and look at it to help students decide what they need to take when.
But, the deanling warned us, it does this and that wrong, and it can't do this. And we can't make it do that or correct it.
Why, I asked (stupidly).
Because the computer programmers can't do it.
And stupidly, I said, "I don't buy it. We pay the programmers to solve problems."
And I was told I was wrong.
So here's the thing. No one, but no one would ever accept me saying "no, I just can't teach this course I was hired to teach." No one would accept me saying, "no, I can't teach this student."
And that seems reasonable to me. My job is to stay qualified to teach the intellectual area(s) I was hired to teach, and to teach the students in my classes. If I couldn't do that, I would rightly be fired, yes, even with tenure.
But the programmers (who are all paid at least double my salary, I'm sure) get to say, "no, I can't solve this programming problem"? I call bullshit.
We are all too often here told to make curricular decisions based on what the programmers say they just can't do. And I think that's a bad practice. And the deanling smiles and smiles and bullshits along.
Fire the lot of them. Let's hire programmers who can solve the problems we need solved, and deanlings who can communicate the need to solve problems (and which problems in a reasonable order).
We met in a science room. Did you know that F stands for Flourine? And Au for Aurium? And gold is from the Old German? Shiny!
My personal favorite is plumbum, from which we get Pb, or lead, and from which we get people who used to deal with lead pipes, or plumbers. Etymology is fun, my friends! And the word "plumbum" is just fun to say.
This post brought to you by the letters F and Y. (That's Flourine and Yttrium! What were you thinking?)