My friend Hendrik and I were chatting, and he mentioned that his university had cut the time he would have to mark his exams. He said that they were only allowing him two weeks instead of three to hand in the results.
Naturally, being me, I asked him if three years ago, they’d told him that he’d only have three weeks to mark the exams instead of four?
All Hendrik could say was “how can you know that?”
Well, if you understand the limitations of the modern mind, it doesn’t take much by way of imagination to know what they’ve done and why. Or to realize that if they’ve done it before, they’ll do it again. They measure the things they can measure, and that means the things that are important. But before I start in on this, I want to explain something that is utterly beyond his university. You see, it’s because many of the first year courses are compulsory. The students have to come in to be bored for hours on end.
And they are given no choice.
In the world of the intellectual – the only way I have as yet to describe people who need evidence to make their decisions – it’s not just a matter of needing evidence to make a decision. It’s a question of what evidence they’ll accept as valid evidence, and which they’ll dismiss as either irrelevant or worthless. This is an expression of their comfort zone, where everything they know is known – and nothing else exists. This is the paradox of the subconscious: you cannot be aware of what you are not conscious of and so the unquestioning person will simply say that it does not exist. They will assume that all they see is all there is to see. That is the comfort zone.
Furthermore, everyone who agrees with them will be nice, proper, sensible and above all, able to think clearly. Everybody else will be nasty/a fool/plain-wrong/a-fifty-something-frump (me). Here we have the foundation of the “yes-no,” the “I’m right and you’re wrong” culture so clearly expressed by the Americans. Such people are literally blind to half of the world they live in.
What’s more, it’s easy to make this kind of assumption, because the alternative is to understand that an unqualified ex-housewife can have something useful to say. In our modern society, a woman is treated as though she has a criminal record before she’s even spoken. Now you know why so few manage to get to being on the board of directors. Only those who agree with the board of directors get to sit in that room… well, you know the rest, don’t you?
In a university, the situation differs only in degree. Those who find each other’s company bearable are those who form the ‘cabbal’ – there is no other word for it. Anybody who enters their ranks will do so because they agree with every dot and comma. And everybody else is wrong. Naturally, the common student is someone who has not yet passed their test; someone who has not shown their worth to
society the cabbal. And you can only show your worth to them in exactly the way they demand it.
Everybody else is wrong.
You can see that many fail this test; the more important issue here is that until they do pass that test, they are unworthy. In being unworthy, they have nothing of value to say. And so the closed circle of the cabbal continues into the future and there is nothing and nobody that can change this. Why can there be no change? Because the only people who are allowed in agree with every sentiment present. Given that they cannot know if this is right or wrong is the real problem here. Anybody who even suggests anything that is wrong is immediately branded a wrondoer, and anybody who says anything publicly is a whistleblower.
Now where have we heard that before?
Opportunity For Expression.
Well, that is the problem at its heart. You see, I suggested to my friend Hendrik that all lectures be made voluntary. He looked at me with an expression that told me that this was an impossibility! The issue here is that the lectures are so boring that nobody’d come if they weren’t forced to… and because the usual circumstance is that because they have a captive audience, nobody has to improve their lecturing performance. These people have painted themselves into a corner.
This is the heart of the book I’m writing, and why it was that an engaging and effective academic found himself sidelined. It’s because the others couldn’t, and in refusing to improve themselves, the only solution is to rid themselves of the person they see as being a wrongdoer. Rather than shame themselves – but then, anybody who speaks of humiliation will be the kind who can be humiliated. That is to say, shamed. What’s more, they are being shamed by the very things they think are good and proper.
Yet allowing people freedom is the only way out of this kind of log-jam.
Only allowing underlings – Untermenschen – the right to blow the whistle on your entire scam is not the kind of thing that’s going to be tolerated. Is it? These are the kind of people who find themselves in prison because they’re so wrong. The Nazis, the ultimate non-German politicians, were past masters at this. Sure, the Germans do this kind of thing, but they do it in a German way – not in the way the Americans do.
Back To Marking Exams.
When the academic staff are the only ones who are correct; not only that, they are the only people who have the right to decide. When all they can see are the things that interest them, then this is what they are going to measure. In this case, the only thing they can measure is the time it takes to present the results. In their eyes, this is more efficient.
But be warned: this kind of thinking has not dealt with any of the structural problems at the university! As you can imagine, the problems are so ingrained that the only way to change it is to start all over again… but that’s like trying to get the Pentagon to stop bombing people.
The other side of the coin is that the students are buying into this because otherwise they’ll not get jobs. In academia or elsewhere. I taught a bottom stream for mathematics, and three of the kids could easily have been in the top stream. Had they wanted to try. Their whole attitude to the school – the system – was of dismissal. Their career opportunities would be severely limited as a result, but kids don’t think like that. Only the grownups who think for them do, and are puzzled – not to say, outraged – by those who do not accept their gift.
With all of the above, it’s clear that nobody is looking at the root of the problem because to do so would be to question the very things they find the most comforting. The only things they see as useful – like the time it takes to issue the results – are to the students utterly irrelevant. They never pester my friend Hendrik for a result to be issued earlier; the Dutch are patient folk who don’t mind waiting.
What the students do want is better marks!
But who are the students? To the academic, they are the social equivalent of a leper. Nobody in their right mind would listen to that kind of creature, leave alone take advice from it.
Oh? What about my friend Hendrik? He’s only a humble lecturer, not a member of the senior academic staff. Who’s going to him? Are the senior staff going to listen to the social equivalent of a leper? Nobody in their right mind would listen to that kind of creature, leave alone take advice from it.
When it comes to those living out of their comfort zones, it very quickly becomes a matter of repeating oneself. It’s all they know, it’s all they’re prepared to speak about, and anything else is, well, I think you know the rest, don’t you?
When 99,95% of the world thinks in this way, there really is and can be no solution. Because the solution lies in self-realization, the very thing they have set their lives up to reject out of hand.