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Thanks to Kathleen Joaquin of SAISD for making her lesson plans available to other teachers! The Lightning Thief- Rick Riordan Lesson Plans Suggested topics to correlate: Greek mythology, friendship, overcoming adversity TIPS FOR SUCCESS: The teacher should read the entire literature book as well as this packet before reading it with the class. Each student needs to have his/her own copy of the book. Spend 10-15 minutes daily “playing” a game with the vocabulary words.
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Dunce Cages, Hickory Sticks,
and Public Evaluation:
T
h
oe
S
t A A
cr u
au t
c d het omu r
r i ie c t
a
r
a
n
i
Michael A. Fata s
Department of Sociology mUniversity of WisconsinThis paper is published and circulated by the following groups on the
Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin; Teaching Assistant
Association, Radical Caucus of the Student Health Organization, Wis-
consin Sociology Students Association, Science Students Union, English
(of the Economics Department), Psychology students Association. It
was prepared by members of the Connections staff. Although all these
groups do not necessarily agree with this critique, we feel it is an
credits: cover and p. 2, The Great Speckled Bird; p, 40, ConnectionsOther groups contributing to the publication and circulation
of this article ere the History Students Association and the Center
for Esdical Education.
n6 col. 1, nesr bottom For ]rese£rch retiard structure." reedp-
"research revrard structure,"
8 col. 1, line one For "role determining" read "role ofp.
determining"
11 col. 2, near top For "the idea." read "the idea of educationp-
uithln on authoritarian fremenork is
incompatible with the idea"
col. middle For "drafted during the in period of vul-p. 1* 2,
nerability," read "drafted during their
period of vulnerability"
2S col. 1, end of 1stp. For "able to do for him" read "able to
para do for himself, or anything society
is able or willing to do for him"
col. 1,33 top of 2nd For "virtually overlap" reed "virtuallyp.
pcro no overlap"
note36 For "radically separate doimitory," read
"rrcicillye dormitory"
33 note 12 For "For the century point of vie.:," readp.
1"For the contraryt of vie ,;"
39 note 15, to-vard end For the first cccurence of "eliminated isP'
that pass-fril students are less,"
read "relatively difficult courses.
The one theory that"
v>For copies of this article, contact: Eernrrd E. Johnson, 4.39 . Dayton
rStreet, Madison, isconsin 53703. Donations greatly appreciated.page 3
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I
The Functions and Dysfunctions of Public Evaluation ....3
CHAPTER II
Non-Authoritarian Learning Environments: Findings and Opinions..18
CHAPTER III
Input/Output '.. ..26
...within an anthropological frame of re- linked with the party, while in fact this
linkage is the consequence of his ownference that recognizes man as free, we
choice. It can easily be seen that "badcan usefully apply what Jean-Paul Sartre
has called "bad faith." To put it very faith" covers society like a film of
simply, "bad faith" is to pretend some- lies. The very possibility of "bad faith,"
however, shows us the reality of freedom.thing is necessary that in fact is volun-
Man can be in "bad faith" only becausetary. "Bad faith" is thus a flight from
he is free and does not wish to face hisfreedom, a dishonest evasion of the "agony
freedom. "Bad faith" is the shadow ofof choice." "Bad faith" expresses itself
human liberty. Its attempt to escapein, innumerable human situations from the
that liberty is doomed to defeat. For,
most commonplace to the most catastrophic.
as Sartre has famously put it, we areThe waiter shuffling through his appointed
"condemned to freedom." Peter L. Berger.rounds in a cafe is in "bad faith" insofar
Invitation to Sociology; A Humanisticas he pretends to himself that the waiter
role constitutes his real existence, that,
if only for the hours he is hired, he is
the waiter. The woman who lets her body
be seduced step by step while continuing On July 9, 1968, I read the following
statement, with slight modifications, toto carry on an innocent conversation is in
my colleagues in the Department of Sociol-"bad faith," insofar as she pretends that
what is happening to her body is not under ogy:
her control. The terrorist who kills and With the end of the 1967-68 academic
year, 1 have completed my first year asexcuses himself by saying that he had no
a member of the faculty of the Univer-choice because the party ordered him to
kill is in "bad faith," because he pre- sity of Wisconsin and my seventh .year
as a teacher at the university level.tends that his existence is necessarilypage 4
My experiences during this period have grades, as required by university regula-
led me to a'number of conclusions tions), I have a responsibility to.try to
about student evaluation and related substantiate the assumptions underlying
problems: them and to clarify the rationale that
led me to accept them. My approach to
First, the responsibility for making this problem will be sociological, philo-
public evaluations of students, es- sophical, and axiological.
pecially grades, confers on me the
g ISSLS.™,E£ £££"£ ?l. I. THE FUNCT.ONS
life chances of many students.
AND DYSFUNCTIONS
Second, such power, now exercised by
teachers at virtually all levels of OF PUBLIC EVALUATION
incompatible with the creation of The conventional wisdom on the social
healthy learning environments, and it purposes of grading systems and related
has been especially so in my case. structures is readily summed up by the
The social, educational, and spiritual following series of platitudes:
costs of maintaining this structure
far exceed whatever benefits may accrue Graduate schools, employers, and
from making student evaluations avail- parents are, for various reasons, in-
able to the various agencies—including terested in evaluation. Graduate edu-
the Selective Service System—that may cation is expensive and therefore
request them. limited, and ought to be limited to the
best prospects. Graduate schools could
setThird, while the faculty and adrainis- entrance examinations of their own,
tration of this university have a right, °r rely on letters of recommendation,
indeed a responsibility, to demand that but if an evaluation of a candidate's
I uphold as teacher and researcher the competence can be conveniently deduced
f
high standards of scholarship for which rom a grading system in the under-
this university is justly renowned, graduate college, so much the better.
there is no legitimate authority that Identical remarks hold for prospective
jmay impose orime and my students the employers of students not going to
encumbrances that almost invariably,e school
in my experience, have arisen out of
the grading-rating structure. In my Not every seventeen-year-old will
view, public evaluations should be come to the university athirst for
made only with the mutual consent of knowledge to such a degree that he
. individual professors and individual "HI spend all his waking hours at
students. lecture and the books. Some of his
time will be, and ought to be, spent
and responsibilities are such that I sex. How much? Students look to the
feel compelled to announce unilaterally university for an answer. Some stu-
that I am no longer willing deliberate- dents need the answer more than others;
ly to exercise any potentially negative they genuinely don't know. If they
power over the life chances of my stu- receive no answer at all, but only a
dents, and that I consider the imposi- recommendation to make good use of
tion of any such responsibility to be their time, they are being deprived
an affront to my academic freedom and quite artificially of a guide which
to that of my students. serves all other persons in all other
walks of life....
Although I have the impression that many,
if not most, of my colleagues are inclined Professors do not ordinarily, like
to agree, at least at an intuitive level, Demosthenes-of old, lecture to the waves
with the gist of this series of statements, They must have a way to judge the recep-
yet it is clear that as author of these tiou of their teaching. Examinations
propositions and as one who has deemed it and assigned papers and exercises accom-
necessary to take action on the basis of plish this in part. If teaching were
them (by refusing any longer to turn in conducted always in small groui>s, withpage 5
conversations, and papers presented anxiety over the problem of finding some
orally, more formal methods might not alternative way of making appropriate
be so necessary; but as it is (and "status allocations" in the absence of the
must be, if professors' wages are to grading system. But because I believe
remain decent) many classes are large that the Schelling principle fairly per-
and many assignments must be unsuper- vades the academic community, I seriously
vised. A system of examinations is doubt that any equivalent evaluation pro-
a guide to both partners in learning.... cedure would be any less rational than
The administration of the university, ages several possible alternative proce-
too, being even further removed from dures ranging from a reliance on the use
personal observation of their students' of partial GPA's to the use of compre-
accomplishment, will want to look over hensive examinations to an insistence on
the professor's shoulder at these same the part of a given university—and this
grades.... is what I would truly like to see us do—
that outside agencies themselves assume
persons interested in the results of their own personnel selection work. If
the gratiing system, these being the these agencies do not trust their initial
public, the students, and the univer- judgment, I see no reason why they should
sity, their reasons for wanting the not adopt apprenticeship systems, up-or-
grades to exist fall under two main out arrangements, and so forth. And with-
headings; (a) They wish grades to in this latter framework, I would not be
serve as a certificate of accomplish- at all averse to raising some very serious
ment or competence, and (b) They wish questions about whether most letters, arts,
grades to serve" as a disciplinary de- and sciences degrees ought even to be con-
vice or incentive.-, tinned. I say this because, in many in-
pectedly, is found at the high school dering to the blatantly discriminatory
level? Implicit in all such speculations educationally discriminatory—personnel
about the putative functions of public selection practices of many employers,
evaluation are the assumptions that, first, But this is a matter that I shall treat
academicians generally have a sufficient in some detail in Part III.
degree of skill, and are sufficiently Much of what our leading educators
conscientious, as psychometricians that say when they try to justify the exami-
they are able to devise reasonable ob- nation-grade-degree system is, frankly,
jective, reliable, and valid measures of bunk. I use this somewhat pejorative term
student performance; second, that such because I believe, with Peter Berger, that
measures are highly correlated with later large part of what we do as sociologists
indicators of quality of performance and onsists, or ought to consist, of debunk-
are therefore useful as predictors. As we ng, that is, of exposing society as~~pre-
quite shaky and, at worst, utterly unten- hat the ostensible "reasons" for given
able. Given the way human societies oper- social structures are not the real reasons
ate, however, such a situation is certain- at all, but merely a set of serai-mystical
ly not uncommon, and perhaps not entirely collective representations that constitute
inappropriate. Thomas Schelling, in The the sorts of "derivations"t most of us
Strategy of Conflict, has argued per- find plausible—without really having ex-
suasively that a certain amount of arbi- amined them—at any given historical momeitt.
trariness is a necessary and inescapable The examination-grade-degree system has a
part of any society, for in many instances number of latent functions that, in their
it is far more important that decisions total impact, are probably vastly more
be made than it is that they be made important in keeping the system viable
rationally. (Democratic elections are a than the various official "purposes" cited
prime example.) In view of the factt by apologists for the system. Some of
my strictures against the grading system these functional outcomes—a function is
equivalent that will work just as well,..," ference to socio-psychological conditions,
assume that there is & certain amount of and some with reference to demographicpage 6
conditions. I do not pretend that my specifically, I found that assistant and
list is exhaustive, and I challenge my associate professors, "forced" to conform
sociological colleagues to try to make to norms which they will not entirely
additions to it. accept as full professors, are the colonels
of the academic hierarchy in the sense of
I having & profound dissatisfaction with the
prevailing structure (including the rank
The contemporary university professor and salary aspects of it) and expressing
is sometimes defined as a man who is seek- that dissatisfaction by supporting unions
5
ing a student-free sanctuary. Students, to a disproportionate extent. Finally,
as one might expect, are not unaware of additional evidence suggested that the cur-
this circumstance; a survey conducted at rent professorial reward structure tends
the University of California at Berkeley to create a restricted world-view among
as a partial basis for the "Muscatine professors who might otherwise become "cos-
Report," showed that 42% of the students raopolitans" in a very special sense. The
felt that most professors are more inter- study.closes with the following observa-.
ested in research than teaching.-^ The re- tions:
port recognizes explicitly that one of the
major difficulties involved in trying to These findings suggest that Merton-'a
improve teaching is that the current reward famous distinction between "locals" and
structure is not at all conducive to the "cosmopolitans" may well be applicable
^attainment of such a goal. to the American professoriate. Such an
application was attempted several years
Our major difficuly has been that ago fay Alvin Gouldner who found, among
since achievement in research is a very other things, that cosmopolitan pro-
rare commodity, it tendso enjoy a fessors differed from locals in having
faculty that aspireso preeminence in a stronger research orientation, fewer
graduate education a greater prestige friends within the immediate college
than achievement in teaching. Hence community, little sense of attachment
our chairmen and appointments and pro- or loyalty to the local community, and
motion committees have given a fuller in-receiving most of their intellectual
measure of attention to evidence of stimulation from sources outside the
research. Even granting that research university. Subsequently a factor analy-
is itself in some measure an indicator sis showed that "there were two kinds
of qualities valuable in teaching, as of cosmopolitans, the outsiders and the
the system is presently implemented, empire builders, and four kinds of
there is danger that deficient perfor- locals, the dedicated, the elders, the
mance of teaching is not adequately re- true bureaucrats, and the horaeguard."
cognized and outstanding performance My own typology, somewhat idealized,
not given due credit. neatly encompasses Gouldner's empiri-
cal types while simultaneously trans-
it question the implicit assumption, con- cending them by producing categories
tained in the first sentence of this state- that represent logical, but empiri-
ment, that achievement in research is a cally non-existent or infrequent, pos-
rarer commodity than achievement in teach- sifailities. Gouldner's four local
ing—I suspect that just the contrary may types are classifiable as being either
be nearer the truth—but since in the pre- uni-dimensional or mul ti-dimensional
sent instance I am not attempting an ex- in orientation: The minor departmental
planation of the differential teaching/ administrator with a highly limited
research reward structure. I do not con- world-view and little interest in or
sider it necessary to assess each of the understanding of the workings of the
various theoretical positions that might local academic community as a whole, is
be taken on the issue. In a study recent- among the uni-dimensional; highly placed,
ly completed, however, I found that the sophisticated administrators, who in
publish and/or perish structure creates the state universities often receive
some interesting discontinuities ine salaries larger than that of any other
socialization of professors, and that state employee (including the governor),
these discontinuities often produce the «e local only in the more restricted
kinds of anxieties that may lead profes- sense of being profoundly loyal, of
sors to join organizations such as the having a lifetime tenure among the dom-
American Federation of Teachers. More inating elite of locally circumscribedpage 7
sociometric structures, and of having
such as to encourage young men to makelittle involvement with the outside
world except what is essential in order their futures a function of the futures
to protect and further the putative in- of organizations that are generally
quite anti-poetic in their prevailingterests of the local academic community.
world-view, so that even if anybodyFinally, it should be noted that as the
read poetry there would be very littlecosmopolitan spheres increasingly ab-
reason for writing it. Every sociolo-sorb' and dominate local institutions,
gist understands role complementarity,the local-cosmopolitan differentiation
and Chancellors Murphy of UCLA andbecomes more and more obscure, until in
Beadle of Chicago, among many others,the case of the administrative junta
are clearly correct when they insistof the larger megaversities the distinc-
that the teaching and research func-tion becomes nearly untenable: the
tions are not antagonistic to one an-state of California, for example, is
other, that they are, in fact, mutuallyhardly a local community, and its chief
supportive. But in propounding suchacademic administrators often have acces
an argument these learned gentlemento a national constituency of the kind
evade the central issue entirely— al-that, in my opinion, academicians gen-
though the point may go over as an as-erally ought 'to be addressing.
pect of an ideology of rule. The issue
Is the reward structure and the struc-The outsiders and the empire-builders
ture of values with which it inerlocks.of Gouldner's typology, traditionally
understood to be the cosmopolitans of
I believe that what college and uni-the academic community, are not an at-
versity professors clearly need, des-tracti«.e lot: their bag (or, in the
perately need, is an organization that,older Skinnerian metaphysic, their box)
unlike the American Federation of Teach-is to publish and/or perish. Seeking
ers, will not be satisfied with "improve-a national or international reputation
ments" within the framework of a pre-within the narrow purview of an acade-
vailing structure that is alienating,mie specialty that may contain only a
stultifying, and permeated by a steril-few dozen practitioners in the entire
ity so rancorous that when academiciansworld, the uni- dimensional cosmopolitan
talk about themselves they often adoptfinds most aspects of local community
the self -abnegating rhetoric of thelife anathema to the ambitious inter-
most down-trodden victims of racism.ests of career: administration is for
Those who have deluded themselves intothe local bureaucrats, the student
believing that the frustration and(especially the undergraduate) is the
meaning lessness of life within theprimary enemy, the examination-grade-
higher circles of academia have come todegree system the single most important
a long-awaited -end on -receipt of whatmeans of containing him, and humanistic
is contemptuously called the union card,studies are largely irrelevant and
therefore a waste of time. The reward must have their hopes utterly destroyed
structures_.of the most prestigious on realizing that a. truly enervating
and influential American universities — tour de force has only just begun, and
not to mention government and the foun- that one is again to be placed in a
dations — support this breed as lavishly probationary status that one is most
as they do the high-level administra- expeditiously able to .escape fay means
tor, and the most persuasive critics of of the same sorts of channeling,
American higher education—William maneuvering, and ritualized skitter-
Arrowsmith comes to mind— poin t to
scatter that led, at long last, to the
these acolytes of abstracted empiri- Ph.D. A significant social movement
cism as exemplifying the predominant, among academicians could raise and act
modal type of adaptation among American i pertaining to social struc-upon ssues
university professors. While it is ture that are now ordiarily taken as
true that publishing and/or perishing given, beyond reproach, sacrosanct.
do not altogether preclude the raulti- example, do we disassociatewhy> for
dimensional, cosmopolitan style of a actually alienate all areas of know-and
C. Wright Mill8f.it is also true that ledge by means of the departmental struc-
one's position as a successful organi- rationale, if any,Cure? vbat is the
zation man does not preclude one's be- behind the endless proliferation of
coming a first-rate poet. The -problem courses within each department? Is the
lies in the fact that the contemporary roie of public evaluator, that is, thepage 8
mination-grade-degree system is the sheerrole determining, in some measure] the
containment^ of students. (The academiclife chances of students, compatible
degree, paradoxically, has the dual pur-with the role of teacher? When a de-
pose of, initially, forcing people to comepartmental manifesto on retention-pro-
to college and then, once they are here,
motion criteria says that "community-
providing & way of holding them in check.service" is to be rewarded, what does
See Chapter III.) My own experiencethis phrase mean in concrete instances?
(and this includes the current summerWhat should it mean? Should we follow
session) has been that whenever I am ableGoethe's maxim that if a professor
to lay down the cudgel of tests (exceptwishes to produce great scholars, he
for diagnostic purposes) and grades, "my"
should begin by treating his students
students are always, on the average, faras if they were already great scholars!
more demanding, enthusiastic, vociferous,What are some ways in which relation-
and productive than usual, and therefore
ships among faculty colleagues could
take up far more of my time. Yet in mybe enriched and made more valuable
case it has been well worth the additionalintellectually? And what about-power
effort both because of the intrinsic re-
structures? Is Veblen correct when
wards and because, on reflection, I findhe says that boards of regents, trus-
that many of my best research ideas havetees, governors, elders, or whatnot are
come to me either in the classroom or asan anachronism from the days when they
had a legitimate function in maintain- a direct result of class preparation. It
is difficult, however, to imagine ways ofing contact with ecclestiastical money
encouraging increased faculty interest andsupplies? Is Veblen correct when he
says that American university buildings involvement in teaching, while still oper-
ating within the framework of the currentlook much better from outside than
publish and/or perish arrangements. Itfrom inside? Is it possible, in that
seems clear that steps must be taken toconnection, to produce a university
reduce the emphasis on superfluous andarchitect of sufficient competence to
redundant publication, which is said torealize that human excellence cannot
abound; at the same time, the rewardspossibly flourish within the rigidities
of a classroom ecology that is the very for excellent teaching must be somehow
enhanced. In addition, I have the strongepitome of the prevailing authoritarian
Impression from informal interviews withand dehumanizing quality of the contem-
aany colleagues that, if teaching were toporary "teaching process"? It may be
be made more pleasant than it is now, theythat until various American corporations
would be far more enthusiastic about parti-realize the meaning of the admonition
cipating in it. One of the major struc-"Dow shalt not kill," we should not per-
tural difficulties facing the modern uni-mit on-campus recruitment; but should
versity is the fact that the more presti-we continue in the meantime to tolerate
a universal structure that has already gious faculty members are in a position
that enables them to pressure administra-imposed upon us, in our ostensible capa-
tion for relief from almost any teachingcity as teachers and liberators, an
responsibilities, and usually such profes-examination-grade-degree system that
necessarily involves us in carrying sors wish to escape under-graduate teach-
ing. The university must acquiesce inout a substantial part of the personnel-
these pressures, if it wishes to maintainselection work of outside agencies, with
its national and international reputation.ruinous consequences for what occurs
Virtually any academic dean will testifywithin the classroom? Should we have
that no amount of admonition will persuadeany responsibilities other than to edu-
research-oriented professors that theycate people in the broadest sense and
to create knowledge? And with respect ought to devote some attention to under-
graduate education. When admonition isto the latter responsibility, is secret
futile, it is usually because the problemresearch compatible with professional
is structural, and it seems to me that oneethics, or with morality? Clearly
of the more encouraging and promising as-this list is merely a brief sampling,
pects of the present movement to bringand the range of such questions is as
boundless as our indifference toward about a restructuring of the teaching pro-
6
them. cess is that the types of change that are
now contemplated may have the beneficial
impact of inducing the more powerful andIt seems hardly deniable, then, that one
pceitiKlous faculty members to Assume onceof the major latent functions of the eia-page 9
aore, at Least a small amount of responsi- tricable component of a larger structure
bility for undergraduate education. This that is so thoroughly authoritarian as to
be utterly repulsive from any moral or pro-assertion cannot be proven, but-is is cer-
tainly worth testing. fessional standpoint. If you think I exag-
One might argue, of course, that the re- gerate, just look around. I can list at
gard structure, is merely an adaptation to least a half a dozen examples of classrooms
in our social science building alone thatthe immense pressures of overwhelmingly
large numbers of students—and the point provide splendid examples of what Norman
is well taken. Cross-lagged correlations Mailer has called "totalitarian architec-
ture": the walls, floors, and ceilingsbetween indicators of such pressures, the
are lifeless, drab, and totally inartis-growth and development of the differential
teaching/research reward -structure with tic, and the dull structural lines are
broken only by an occasional protrudingrelated publish and/or perish arrangements,
heater element or coat hook, monstrouslyand the examination-grade-degree system
would be highly illuminating, and it might ugly; "no smoking" signs, one to a wall,
be worthwhile in such a study to inquire remind one that the phrase "thou shalt
lot" epitomizes the whole motif of whatinto the various reasons—other than the
purely demographic ones—why the pressure occurs within these depressing walls;
numbered seats, bolted to the floor, areof numbers has grown so rapidly over the
tiered row upon rigid row toward the backpast several decades. However, rather
cursory knowledge of the history of the of the room and are- designed and spaced in
American unisversity indicates that the such a way that, by comparison, the hard-
est church pews of the hardest fundamen-publish and/or perish structure, which
talist, muscular Christianity-type churcheswas transplanted from Germany during the
a
latter quarter of the nineteenth century, must be quite comfortable—I have seen
antedates by several decades the advent students literally struggling just to turn
around in these seats, and I hesitate toof the overwhelming demographic pressures
think what would happen if anybody towardto which we are now trying to adapt. In
this case an explanation based on a dif- the middle of a row should have to exit
fusion model might be more valid than one quickly for any reason;, in the front of
the room, there is a stage, a lectern,based on the functional model. It is ob-
escutcheon, and a blackboard, and wevious, in any case, that many powerful
vested interests have built up around the all know who occupies that eminent posi-
tion. Now, such a.room, obviously design-publish and/or perish structure, and
ed by and for authoritarian personalityefforts to interpret the relationship be-
tween the structure and the interests, types, is not at all conducive to the crea-
within the contemporary university, must tion of flexible, non-authoritarian, non-
threatening learning environments; quitemake use of the basic imagery of function-
alism. In this connection, it seems to the contrary, it considerably reduces the
me that while most of the vested interests variance in what students and teachers
are able to do. "In my 'own case, I findthat support the grading-rating and pub-
that I can hardly tolerate such rooms—lish and/or perish structures could be
quite readily cooled out, the demographic they usually have the. effect of utterly
problems may turn out to be the most in- incapacitating me for any kind of meaning-
tractable. I do, however, have one point ful interaction—and I always gallantly
try to get a room re-assignment, sometimesto make on this matter: the student/teach-
er ratio only becomes problematical in a successfully. I think it would be fascin-
situation where our traditional definitions ating to trace the decision-making process
to the point where one would discover theof the differential status-role of student
and teacher are allowed to prevail, if types of mentalities that design such
all of us (including those now called rooms and the types of mentalities that
consent to their construction. But then,"students") were to become both teacher
and student, the problem would largely at the end of it all, would one really
have discovered anything new?^disappear by definition.
Although I know of only a small hand-
II ful of studies that attempt to test, at
least by implication, Michel's "iron law
:he aca.de-
tion-grade-degree system is what I call
articulated authoritarianism. The system am familiar have found much evidence in
persists, in part, because it is an inex- support of the contention that, even when