Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pedagogic take-home assignment

...aka homework. My how time does fly, and next Friday, I have to turn in my "Project report from progressive development in my own teaching". Basically, we're supposed to turn in a giant essay on "How we have evolved as teachers, students of life and human beings through the infinite wisdom imparted on us by our benevolent and Infallible Pedagogic Teachers through whom we are one step closer to Spiritual Enlightenment from Their guiding us on the Path of Righteousness and honoring us mere mortals by Their Immaculate Presence."

In theory, this is all good and well - write up a report based on what you learned in the course and how you've implemented it in your teaching. But there's a catch. This is very much akin to writing a report on how you spent the money from a grant you never got. So I'm screwed.

As I struggle to define the structure of my report and - well - a topic, I find it hard to fill out even the simplest of sections and not lying my ass off. Honesty doesn't work in situations like these, or the "Background and motivation" section of this "What did I learn in Pedagogic training and how excited am I to write about it" paper would read "Same as what I had before the course started" and "None," respectively. But I strongly suspect that my pedagocic instructors are looking for something else, so I have done what appeared feasible considering the hand I've been dealt, and read through the final reports of some previous students. We were strongly encouraged to do so in the beginning of the course, so as to bear witness to the infinite untapped potential that mere mortal academics have become capable of carrying out after one full year of this course, and were encouraged again recently so as to catch a glimpse of Enlightenment.

Since the reports are specific for whatever course load, level, department and faculty the individual academic has to deal with, the best one can hope for is to get some idea on how it's possible to structure this thing. In reading previous reports, I learned that my predecessors have struggled with the exact same issues I have - they've had no clue what to write, and have consequently just jotted down pages with an information density startlingly close to zero. This is evident from the fact that I can read the same paragraph in any given report - especially the "background and motivation" - five times without any hope of figuring out what it really means. If I try to identify content-carrying, defining sentences, I come up empty.

I know - the joke's on me since I actually bothered to do the recommended reading. Serves me right. Besides, in retrospect I should have seen this coming just by reading the titles. If someone tries to pass of the phrase "Formative evaluation" in a title, it's pretty darn obvious that the rest of the document is void of content. Otherwise one would never put something meaningless in a title. "Formative evaluation" - what the hell does that mean anyways? "Formative years" makes sense. "Formative evaluation" only makes sense in the sense that it is built up by an adjective preceding a noun.

SO; I'm gonna use the same trick here and just insert pretentious, meaningless phrases in a gramatically semi-correct fashion. The working title of my report: "Formative evaluation of teaching and learning in a pedagogically conducive environment through pro-active synergy"


Anders said...

Isn't there an online Mission Statement Generator (or something like that) on the Dilbert website. You might be able to get some "suitable" headings from there.

"Formative evaluation of teaching and learning in a pedagogically conducive environment through pro-active synergy"
lol. Good one!

Anders said...

Found it. Here's one you can almost cut'n'paste into you assingment:
"Our mission is to continue to interactively network performance based opportunities in order to completely facilitate scalable benefits "

More here:

Wilhelm said...

Awesome! I'll see if I need to up the bullshit quotient.

I wonder how people can use the term "formative evaluation" whilst keeping a straight face.

I also wonder why the hardcopy of previous reports didn't need to be weighted down with a brick to keep it from drifting away.