My last post here was on December 3, 2009. The next day I left for what I thought was going to be a productive summer break.
Instead I ended up spending my break overseeing the painting and repair of my mom's house in Kimberley.
I guess in a sense it was productive but not in terms that speak to my academic work.
The word 'academic' may be a little too strong since my modest intention was to write two Study Guides over the month or more that I would be away.
For those reading outside of South Africa the concept of a Study Guide at the college/university level may need a little 'splaining.
In fact I am still confused that lecturers are expected to produce Study Guides for the classes they teach.
What it all amounts to as a colleague of mine who also taught in the US says,"is nothing short of f*cking plagiarism."
Instructors merely copy material from text books and write inane little summaries that describe intended "outcomes" for the material covered.
The fixation on "outcomes" in South Africa is paradoxical, particularly in higher education.
I say paradoxical because the fixation has little to do with learning and everything to do with big brother administration and academic bookkeeping.
Literally dozens upon dozens of paragraphs are devoted to stating the obvious.
You will find "outcomes" descriptions that explain it so: "At the end of this section the learner (f*ck I hate that term) will be able to discuss important issues pertaining to course objectives.
Or, "the learner will be able to discuss (insert number) issues that pertain to foreign policy."
And so it goes.
Once a Study Guide is completed it is handed to a group of otherwise unemployable English (or Linguistics) majors who contain themselves in a department called Academic Development.
Instead of directly counting beans for academic profit they count words so that the bean counters can find a way to chart productivity.
These academic developers check Study Guides for "outcomes coherence" while making sure that the learners are being "guided correctly".
I have a theory about the origins of Study Guides. I also have a theory about English and/or Linguistics majors who are employed in academic development but I'll set it aside for now ;)
It occurred to me that during the apartheid years textbooks from outside of South Africa were not freely available because of a general academic boycott and cost factors.
So folks just copied pages from available textbooks and assembled them into what is now supposedly Study Guides.
The practice continues even though the academic boycott is over. What remains is that textbooks are very expensive.
Books on the whole are too expensive in South Africa. A major reason for this being that the government imposes huge taxes on books.
So much for the literate society. I guess the cost of books explains why so many folks listen to the likes of Julius Malema.
AnyHowze, I intended this post as a Hello I am Back on the Blog spiel.
But, if I am going to secure a promotion of any sort this year I will have to copy a few textbooks and paste together a Study Guide or two.
I feel dumber by the day.
Peace and good new year blessings to youze.