It’s a beautiful day here is the WAMC listening area and I am listening to Ralph Gardner (4:23min) talk about the constant requests to provide feedback for every service, purchase or experience. In the process he also came to realize that the only acceptable score he can give is 10 of 10, and anything else might send the agent looking for another job: “I now realize the only acceptable score, the only one that keeps workers out of hot water, is a perfect ten”.
Which reminded me of the letters or recommendation that are part of students’ college application. Pratt requires two letters and includes a form for the recommender where they are asked to rank the applicant on a list of qualities such as intelligence and aptitude. It looks pretty much like the form many other universities use, except that Pratt’s scale is from below average to superior. My experience reading applications is that the overwhelming majority of students are ranked in the references as Superior. Now when I see straight-superiors, I translate this to anything from this-student-is-superior to this-student-can-hopefully-complete-your-program.
Some of these students do turn out to be superior, most are average and above average, a small number are below average. But like their recommendations, their grades are more likely to be an A than anything else. According to Pratt’s grading scale, A is excellent, but in reality A is excepted and B is suspicious.
Gardner too points to the grade inflation mentality:
It’s all about grade inflation. Meritocracy run amuck. What matters isn’t real achievement but its illusion. The greatest rewards and recognition come not in achieving actual excellence but in knowing how to game the system, massage the algorithms.
In reality an A means anything from truly-brilliant-work to followed-all-instructions-successfully and the system is designed so that everyone gets an A.
Would getting rid of grades solves this? Ideally I would like to see a system that has A, Pass, and Fail. The truly exceptional, original, or otherwise special students will get an A and the rest will be Pass/Fail. It’s one of those solutions that sounds simple but somehow hits nothing but walls. Oh well.
Winter is back with a vengeance, spring and summer seem far away, but at the School of Information we are all planning for the Fall 2017 semester. It will be interesting, challenging and probably very frustrating to teach Information Policy and Government Information this fall and will require many revisions to the existing curriculum as many policies are changing and sources are no longer available. More details and updated syllabi will be available this summer. I am off to a good start with the flyers created by our wonderful office assistant that so very accurately reflect the content of these two courses.
My work is rewarding whether is gets recognition or not, but I have to admit, it was nice to get an honorable mention in this NYTimes article.
There is so much I love about what I do, and where I do it and who I do it with, and this project brought it all together. My fellow harvesters and I were all connected by at most 1.5 degrees of separation. There was even someone who was in a class I taught a zillion years ago when I was an adjunct at Queens College!
It is so great to go the conferences and events and run into so many Pratt graduates, many were my students and took my information policy or government information classes. I remember their term papers and their presentations, and it is great to see them involved in information activism.
But now that my five minutes of fame are over it’s time to get back to work for access to information. Looking for suggestions. And don’t forget to #GovDocs@Trump
This came to me through library channels and may have originated from @noftalee . The idea is to tweet Trump some of the documents that tell the story of our country.
The Tweetathon announcement says:
America deserves a president who is well versed in the history of this nation and the documents upon which that history was built. Let’s present those documents to the President-Elect through his favorite medium–Twitter.
Tweetathon will begin at 9am (central) on December 1, 2016. You are welcome to join at any time.
Feel free to use whatever government related document (Supreme Court decisions, innagurial addresses, speeches, early American papers, etc.) strikes your fancy.
Tag each tweet with the hashtag #GovDocs2Trump and please send them to @realdonaldtrump. This way we can fill his feed.
Finally, please make your first tweet “Dear @realDonaldTrump, We the people demand an informed President.
So yes, of course I plan to join the Tweetathon. In fact, I started making a list of documents I will send. These include the CONAN, The US Constitution Annotated , the Nixon grand jury records and many more
For those who would like to join the conversation but need suggestions on where to find government documents, here are some suggestions:
Our Documents has a list of 100 millstones documents from American history such as the Emancipation Proclamation . A much larger collection is available from Govinfo and Government Publishing Office’s database. Browse their index for Executive orders, Presidential papers and more.
Are your interests in history, diplomacy, foreign affairs? Try FRUS Foreign relations of the United States. There you will find all the correspondences, cables, letters, etc. between presidents and other official. The collection is arranged by president and by topic. For example John F Kennedy Kennedy-Khrushchev Exchanges, Volume VI (it’s basically a retrospective edited wikileaks)
And the Double Feature? The start of the Tweetathon happens to coincide with the End of Term Harvest event I am facilitating tomorrow at the New York Academy of Medicine
Grey Literature End of Term Harvest. 10-1pm, The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029.
The change of government administration brings the potential to eliminate websites, remove information and limit access to past administration content. This day we will identify such websites, particularly in areas on the Affordable Care Act, climate change and more, focusing on government social media and information not on .gov domains.
The plan is to double dip. Not matter where you are #GovDocs2Trump
Two, or is it three, days later, I am still shell-shocked, refusing to let it leave me, trying to hold on to this feeling before it becomes a regular part of everyday life.
I cannot find any silver lining, refuse to be humored, I know where this is going, I have seen it all before.
The liberal left-of-center that was in Israel 20-30 years ago has all but disappeared. The ones that stayed true to their core values are either bitter and beaten or relentless to the point of being a parody of themselves. For everyone else the red lines just kept being pushed back. Not one of these people would have anticipated that 25 years later they’ll be living in the same local border dispute led by the same leaders that time and again were accused and proven to be involved in very shady business, that are either egomaniacal personalities or married to one or both, and there they are year after year. A circus of ministers that hold ignorance as a value, an unnerved population that all suffers from either Stockholm syndrome or denial or worse. All the people that said I will leave the county when/if…. (mostly as an expression of exasperation and not necessarily with the intention of leaving) and all the Whens/ifs came and went endless times, until they don’t even say it anymore.
So what are we going to do? For now, I cannot even think to plan ahead. I feel like after an earthquake, I am standing around surveying the land and assessing damages. I am thinking ahead to all the calamities that are coming, in the Supreme Court, in the regulatory process, in things I personally care about , and more to my field, I am thinking of all those executive orders and directive that promote Open Access and data dissemination , and I worry about some of our flagship information programs such as the Census Bureau’s or the FDLP. And are libraries building local digital collections in case this all goes away? My colleagues and I projected that cuts in the Dept. of Ed. budget could affect us directly within a matter on months, whether through elimination of funds for diversity hiring for universities, or a shakeup/elimination/privatization of the entire accreditation system. Who knows.
I admire the courage and strength and warmth expressed by my colleague and am inspired by it and by words of students. I hope to pull myself together soon and answer some call to arms and in the meantime I will focus on my role in the classroom and work with students to understand how to respond to this as librarians on campuses or in public libraries, how to address the information failure and our role in it, and more, we have much more work to do.