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You are the raw material. Images of Canberra

By johnboy 23 May 2012 25

anu signage

As seen at ANU today by a friend.

I AM A DEGREE FACTORY YOU ARE THE RAW MATERIAL

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You are the raw material. Images of Canberra
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EvanJames 12:05 pm 25 May 12

thy_dungeonman said :

EvanJames said :

.

Or in Classics, seeing really old people turning up to listen to the course convenor deliver his pet lecture, on how we can determine the actual population of Athens around 400 BC. This lecture was famous and our usually small, quiet weekly lectures suddenly became an event.

Haha, just the other day the later year classics students decided to attend one of the lecture in the first year Greek history course on ancient sexuality just to see the first years squirm in awkwardness. But despite our rather one minded nature we classics students at the ANU enjoy an academic environment that is probably still much closer to the good old days that people are describing here, despite the best attempts of the ANU to shrink the department into oblivion.

I’m glad to hear it. It was a really nice faculty in the 80s, small and focussed on what it did. There was a staff/students common room in the AD Hope, lined with books, we’d all hang out there most of the day.

Sometimes in summer, the lecturer would troop us all out into the Haydon Allen courtyard, we’d sit on the grass in the shade and he’d deliver the lecture, Socratic-style. Classics at ANU made you feel like you were really at university.

Thumper 11:29 am 25 May 12

What I experienced was moments like turning up for an English lecture, and seeing how the lecturer/course convener had arranged for his dad to turn up and give the lecture on his pet subject, Henry Lawson. That was Manning Clark. No fanfare, no publicity, just 40-odd of us, and Manning Clark striding in wearing his suit, and his hat. Lectures were events, then

I had the same at UC.

Cultural history lecture, rocked up and there is Manning-Clark, resplendent in all black with a big hat on his head.

Fantastic.

thy_dungeonman 11:06 am 25 May 12

EvanJames said :

.

Or in Classics, seeing really old people turning up to listen to the course convenor deliver his pet lecture, on how we can determine the actual population of Athens around 400 BC. This lecture was famous and our usually small, quiet weekly lectures suddenly became an event.

Haha, just the other day the later year classics students decided to attend one of the lecture in the first year Greek history course on ancient sexuality just to see the first years squirm in awkwardness. But despite our rather one minded nature we classics students at the ANU enjoy an academic environment that is probably still much closer to the good old days that people are describing here, despite the best attempts of the ANU to shrink the department into oblivion.

Meconium 10:44 pm 24 May 12

I wonder if uni is actually easier these days, or if it just seems easier? Things have changed over the past few decades, not least our increased investment in school-level education, and our understanding of the world is clearer now too than it was at the end of the cold war. While university policies have changed, and while the more inclusive and understanding attitude towards students has arguably made the whole uni experience less formal (and made it seem like less of an achievement to get a degree), I wonder if it’s actually objectively much easier? Doing anything you’re not good at is still hard – but maybe it’s easier now just to avoid doing the hard stuff and still walk out of the place with the same award as the serious students?

EvanJames 10:41 pm 24 May 12

Before “every child wins a prize”, a place at a university was something you worked for, you really worked. You had to prove you deserved to be there. And then you worked to stay there.

If not, we had a good network of training institutions, vocationally orientated. For the professions, we had colleges of advanced education, ag colleges, teachers colleges, nursing colleges, which conferred diplomas and degrees.

And we had the TAFEs, which trained tradespeople and people who needed/wanted hands-on applicable skills.

Now, the universities have to be all of the above. When I was at ANU, most of the lecturers and tutors weren’t teachers, but they had knowledge and would impart it, or at least help us to learn how to find our own knowledge, if we showed interest. I guess it was a negotiation. They expected us to strive to rise to their standards.

But they weren’t baby sitters. I doubt current undergrads have the slightest concept of this.

What I experienced was moments like turning up for an English lecture, and seeing how the lecturer/course convener had arranged for his dad to turn up and give the lecture on his pet subject, Henry Lawson. That was Manning Clark. No fanfare, no publicity, just 40-odd of us, and Manning Clark striding in wearing his suit, and his hat. Lectures were events, then.

Or in Classics, seeing really old people turning up to listen to the course convenor deliver his pet lecture, on how we can determine the actual population of Athens around 400 BC. This lecture was famous and our usually small, quiet weekly lectures suddenly became an event.

NickD 9:13 pm 24 May 12

NickD said :

Yes, let’s go back to higher education being the privilege of a relatively small elite.

And before people jump on me, I do realise that lots of middle and working class people attended university (often at considerable expense) in the pre-Dawkins era. The numbers just weren’t anything like those who can now attend university thanks to those reforms. I also realise that posting three comments in a row is a certain sign of madness…

Myles Peterson 7:10 pm 24 May 12

Back in the 90s, very first lecture. “I don’t want to be here. I will not be taking any questions.”

I think the lecturer also said something similiar.

NickD 7:00 pm 24 May 12

EvanJames said :

Do they still make undergrads read their essays out to the course heads?

The people who dumbed-down our education system destroyed something good and I can’t see it ever being rebuilt.

Yes, let’s go back to higher education being the privilege of a relatively small elite.

I also call bullshit on the “dumbed-down” claims: the quality of the Australian university system compares very well against those of other countries. 21 of the 30-odd universities are ranked in the top 400 in the world (including the ANU at #38) on the Times Higher Education ranking, for instance (and yes, I know that all the ranking systems are flawed – they’re the best we’ve got though).

NickD 6:51 pm 24 May 12

I completed my undergraduate degree at the ANU about a decade ago, and am now studying a masters there. Based on my experiences, the ANU is a much better university now than it was ten years ago (most of the lecturers seem to actually want to teach!).

Codders111 6:18 pm 24 May 12

Having discussed the issue with numerous students who transferred to ANU, I can it almost certainly marks essays/exams more harshly than other Australian universities. A lot of foreign exchange students say the same thing. I don’t think academic standards are the issue.

A lot of the time when people complain about a university being a ‘degree factory’ they mean it lacks a certain human touch. With its research obsession it sometimes seems like ANU doesn’t really care about undergrads except as a source of revenue. This is probably what the poster refers to.

EvanJames 2:39 pm 24 May 12

dpm said :

Hahahaha! Yes, I suppose things were pretty good in the ‘good ol days’! Four-year-old kiddies digging for coal. Three-year-old kiddies digging for coal… along with the four-year-old kiddies… Hahaha!
It’s a sign you are getting old when you start harping on about how much harder and better things were when you were growing up. Read any old literature. It’s been the same old story since Adam was a boy…..
The more things change, the more they stay the same. You should be glad it has gone downhill since you left. Now you can keep telling anyone who’ll listen how it was much harder when you went there! Hahahaha!

And here we have Exhibit A.

The Clever Country is but a faint, receding dream.

dpm 7:27 am 24 May 12

EvanJames said :

LSWCHP said :

I eventually did a degree at the ANU about 25 years ago, and it was so astoundingly bloody hard it just about killed me. I can remember crying in frustration more than once because I thought I was smart but I had not the slightest idea about how to comprehend the lectures or do the assignments.

Yep. That’s my memory, too. I did quite well at a very academic school, but ANU in the early 80s was devasatingly hard.

Since “every child wins a prize” however, you encounter people who’ve got in with a C-grade average at school, they get given “reading bricks” where the faculty actually copies out the reading for them (WTF?!), they can’t reason, can’t argue, can’t analyse, certainly can’t research or determine what is worthy information and what is not. It’s so very depressing.

Lectures in Arts at ANU often finished with spontaneous applause from the sparsly-populated lecture theatre; you’d just heard something extraordinary and all you could do was applaud. I’ve heard the lectures are now packed and standing room only, everyone has laptops and is rattling away. Do they still clap a great lecture? How many great lectures are now given? Do they still make undergrads read their essays out to the course heads?

The people who dumbed-down our education system destroyed something good and I can’t see it ever being rebuilt.

Hahahaha! Yes, I suppose things were pretty good in the ‘good ol days’! Four-year-old kiddies digging for coal. Three-year-old kiddies digging for coal… along with the four-year-old kiddies… Hahaha!
It’s a sign you are getting old when you start harping on about how much harder and better things were when you were growing up. Read any old literature. It’s been the same old story since Adam was a boy…..
The more things change, the more they stay the same. You should be glad it has gone downhill since you left. Now you can keep telling anyone who’ll listen how it was much harder when you went there! Hahahaha!

bikhet 7:17 am 24 May 12

EvanJames said :

Do they still make undergrads read their essays out to the course heads?

You ANU folks had it easy. I remember having to do my viva before the whole Department.

Cheap shot aside, the decline in educational standards has been my experience too. Bit of a bind though – you can have high standards and most of the students will fail or drop out (or you could be more selective about who is admitted) or you can have mass tertiary education with lower standards.

Contrary to what a lot of people would wish, ability isn’t uniformly distributed.

milkman 3:22 am 24 May 12

I think many of these comments apply to Australian universities generally. It seems these days that practically anyone with basic literacy can get an arts degree.

Tetranitrate 12:42 am 24 May 12

LSWCHP said :

jdazzle said :

EvanJames said :

Sadly true. It used to be a proper university, now it’s what it’s become. Bloody Dawkins, bloody Hawke, bloody Howard and the rest of them. So much for “the clever country”.

i totally agree. sad sad sad sad.

For reasons that I won’t elaborate on I went through a variety of conventional IQ and personality tests when I was a young man. The results of several of those tests indicated that I was (according to some definitions) a genius. Anybody who has read my posts here will be probably be having a big ‘Bullshit!!” moment, and I don’t believe it myself, but there it is.

Anyway, after some false starts I eventually did a degree at the ANU about 25 years ago, and it was so astoundingly bloody hard it just about killed me. I can remember crying in frustration more than once because I thought I was smart but I had not the slightest idea about how to comprehend the lectures or do the assignments.

Anyway, while I was at the ANU I was pretty much the dumb kid in the crowd, but I got through somehow and was awarded a degree. I subsequently did OK, and now I regularly interview ANU graduates, or final year students who are looking for work. Some of them are brilliant, and a lot of those people work for me now, which is an absolute joy. But there are a helluva lot of ANU grads with tremendous academic records who I’ve interviewed who appear to have never been near a university. I mean, they appear to be seriously uneducated. Other ANU grads on the interview panels have said the same thing, so it’s not just me.

Overall, me and a lot of the ANU grads I work with reckon that it seems to be a whole helluva lot easier to graduate with great marks now than it was pre 2000. Maybe we’re just crusty old curmudgeons complaining about “young folks nowadays have it so easy”, but I don’t thtink so.

It’s true of all Australian universities, not just ANU – many, if not the majority of overseas students have early high school levels of English reading & comprehension at best. Did you really think they’d be able to walk into tertiary institutions in Australia and survive academically without ‘adjustments’ being made?

When I was studying for exams a few years ago, even papers from 2003/2004 from the library collection were noticeably more difficult than those from 06/07. UC may have been caught with it’s pants down on the subject, but all universities will have made accommodations one way or another.
It’s very obvious in business/economics/commerce/finance, and unfortunately the degrees have been devalued accordingly.

EvanJames 11:41 pm 23 May 12

LSWCHP said :

I eventually did a degree at the ANU about 25 years ago, and it was so astoundingly bloody hard it just about killed me. I can remember crying in frustration more than once because I thought I was smart but I had not the slightest idea about how to comprehend the lectures or do the assignments.

Yep. That’s my memory, too. I did quite well at a very academic school, but ANU in the early 80s was devasatingly hard.

Since “every child wins a prize” however, you encounter people who’ve got in with a C-grade average at school, they get given “reading bricks” where the faculty actually copies out the reading for them (WTF?!), they can’t reason, can’t argue, can’t analyse, certainly can’t research or determine what is worthy information and what is not. It’s so very depressing.

Lectures in Arts at ANU often finished with spontaneous applause from the sparsly-populated lecture theatre; you’d just heard something extraordinary and all you could do was applaud. I’ve heard the lectures are now packed and standing room only, everyone has laptops and is rattling away. Do they still clap a great lecture? How many great lectures are now given? Do they still make undergrads read their essays out to the course heads?

The people who dumbed-down our education system destroyed something good and I can’t see it ever being rebuilt.

LSWCHP 10:51 pm 23 May 12

jdazzle said :

EvanJames said :

Sadly true. It used to be a proper university, now it’s what it’s become. Bloody Dawkins, bloody Hawke, bloody Howard and the rest of them. So much for “the clever country”.

i totally agree. sad sad sad sad.

For reasons that I won’t elaborate on I went through a variety of conventional IQ and personality tests when I was a young man. The results of several of those tests indicated that I was (according to some definitions) a genius. Anybody who has read my posts here will be probably be having a big ‘Bullshit!!” moment, and I don’t believe it myself, but there it is.

Anyway, after some false starts I eventually did a degree at the ANU about 25 years ago, and it was so astoundingly bloody hard it just about killed me. I can remember crying in frustration more than once because I thought I was smart but I had not the slightest idea about how to comprehend the lectures or do the assignments.

Anyway, while I was at the ANU I was pretty much the dumb kid in the crowd, but I got through somehow and was awarded a degree. I subsequently did OK, and now I regularly interview ANU graduates, or final year students who are looking for work. Some of them are brilliant, and a lot of those people work for me now, which is an absolute joy. But there are a helluva lot of ANU grads with tremendous academic records who I’ve interviewed who appear to have never been near a university. I mean, they appear to be seriously uneducated. Other ANU grads on the interview panels have said the same thing, so it’s not just me.

Overall, me and a lot of the ANU grads I work with reckon that it seems to be a whole helluva lot easier to graduate with great marks now than it was pre 2000. Maybe we’re just crusty old curmudgeons complaining about “young folks nowadays have it so easy”, but I don’t thtink so.

jdazzle 9:06 pm 23 May 12

EvanJames said :

Sadly true. It used to be a proper university, now it’s what it’s become. Bloody Dawkins, bloody Hawke, bloody Howard and the rest of them. So much for “the clever country”.

i totally agree. sad sad sad sad.

Deref 9:02 pm 23 May 12

EvanJames said :

Sadly true. It used to be a proper university, now it’s what it’s become. Bloody Dawkins, bloody Hawke, bloody Howard and the rest of them. So much for “the clever country”.

+1

Tragic. If there’s anything more destructive to a country than damaging its education system, I’m damned if I know what it is.

jdazzle 8:43 pm 23 May 12

ha ha haa. how totally excellent.

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