11 December, 2013

a question of focus

yesterday we had our final presentations.

my group rocked it and made me love them oh so very much. many of my classmates also did me proud. there were several groups that absolutely nailed it: they spoke professionally; their ideas were thoughtful and well designed; their graphics were beautiful and it was gratifying to be in the same class with them. several were…well…."ok" i suppose covers it. graphically uninspired but adequate. no pride but no shame, either.

and then, then there were the ones that routinely make me wonder about the vetting process for potential grad school candidates. a couple presentations showed such a total and complete lack of basic understanding of the rather simple concepts that have been pounded into our heads for the last three semesters that the only possible explanations are either utter idiocy or… no, wait, i think utter idiocy is the only possible explanation. i shan't bore you with the technical details, but suffice it to say, they were the urban planning equivalent of a mathematics grad student proudly announcing that 2+2=5.

on top of showcasing an utter lack of understanding of the basic principles that inform today's urban planning, they were graphically awful. awful. i'd have done a better job. hell, a blind arthritic one-armed monkey with a cast on would have done a better job. and, for the most part, these were the people in the design stream of our program.

one presentation in particular felt like a sucker punch. the only thing that made it marginally bearable was knowing that the professional panel that had listened in on several of our presentations had left before this. i really don't have words to express how utterly awful it was: a cornucopia of stupidity, idiocy, ignorance and ugliness, sprinkled liberally with a cocky assurance of being absolutely correct. again, imagine hearing your mathematics grad school classmates proclaiming that 2+2=5 and then not getting called on it, in the name of what? preserving their precious self-esteem? "kindness"? i am shocked and appalled.

it was so bad that when they returned to their seats i had to avert my gaze, because there was no way in hell i would be able to utter that requisite polite "good job!" that we normally toss at each other. i would have choked on it.

a bunch of us went out for dinner after, and on the drive there, c and i discussed the situation. we were both so disgusted that the bitterness in the car made it hard to breathe. eventually i realised that this would not do. we judge our program on the basis of the jokers, the morons, the buffoons, but that's a choice. there are people in there with us who are smart, capable and talented. why not choose to focus on them instead? why not judge the program by those who inspire us to do better, rather than by those who cheapen the experience, who take away the meaning of the marks that we work so hard to get? but man, it's not easy to get over the 2+2=5...


Tom said...

But what happens to the students that you assess are not up to standard? Do they still get to qualify? Do they get a certificate that is emblazoned with the words,"I'm a bum, bumdy bum!"? Are they shot at dawn? Or do they get the jobs and posts that more deserving students should get? Finally, would it be wise if I never contemplated coming to Canada? (Actually I'm not anyway.) When are you going emigrate?

polish chick said...

they get good grades because our faculty is fucked in the head. then, hopefully, they never get hired, and if they do get hired by accident, they get fired. and then, when it comes time to write the qualifying professional exam, they fail and go where they ought to have gone in the first place - greeting people in wal-mart.

seriously, tom. i don't know. that's part of the problem - we honestly don't know what's going to happen and it scares us more than a little. and by us, i mean the thinking segment of the class. this is hardly just my own perception and it's terrifying.

polish chick said...

as for your last two questions, tom, i have friends who teach university and who give out fair marks, but who also tell me of parents that phone them to complain about their precious darlings not doing as well as they ought to. i also think the problem is global, and not confined to canada, so come on down!

as for me emigrating - it'll be the netherlands and i shall keep you posted. must wait for the wee ones to grow up a bit first, then i'll be free to roam.

Zhoen said...

Focus on the good ones. Then dream of the 2+2+5ers winning a Darwin Award.

Congrats, good job.

polish chick said...

thank you, zhoen.

yes, some of them are most certainly future darwin award recipients, though it might be quicker and kinder to take tom's suggestion and have them shot at dawn.