My university sent me a survey canvassing survey responses for their “UQ Student Strategy” which apparently all about “An open discussion: Creating change through transformational learning”. I read some of the PDF. It’s a jargon-fest. You have to rank 5 “strategies” you think should be top priority and three you think are low priority. Here are the strategies:

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I’ll spare you the full horror of the complete “Green Paper”. But here are the expanded Strategies 1.1 to 1.3, which correspond to the first three items in the list above:

  1. Reimagine UQ’s Graduate Attributes to drive program coherence, develop future employability skills and meet graduates’ aspirations and employers’ expectations
  2. Expand opportunities for extension experiences – including a suite of online and blended flagship courses and experiences – that reflect the comprehensive liberal education UQ is able to provide
  3. Build significant industry and government partnerships that strengthen and expand opportunities for authentic and attractive WIL experiences across all programs

I hope that this has made it clearer for you! Although I’m not entirely sure what a “WIL experience” is, nor what an inauthentic WIL experience would look like (seeing as we need to avoid that in order to provide an “authentic” one …)

Anyway they had a box to give additional feedback. And this is what I wrote to them:

Talk like a human for god’s sake.

All your options are just awful jargon with no real content. It’s meaningless drivel that sounds like a bad business strategy powerpoint slide from 2002. Does it have synergy? Does it vertically scale the horizontal integration of enterprise capability management with cost-effective strategization of key performance indicators implementing effective change management process design?

Look, after a long career in top flight computer programming jobs (a skill that UQ didn’t teach me, another university taught me how to think like computer scientist long before I went to UQ), I too can talk like one of your expensive management consultants. But stop it, just stop it, its a joke, and you’re a joke for spewing out this crap.

Teach students how to think, how to reason, how to research. Don’t just teach them “Java” or “C++” or “Plate tectonics” or the “Pauli exclusion principle” or a string of dates and facts pertinent to the French Revolution or what Jane Austen wrote about in “Persuasion”. Well, teach them all those things, but also teach them how to critically evaluate data, why to be suspicious (and when not to be!) of news reports of current events and especially scientific and technical matters, how to spot a likely fake, and where to find out if it is true or not. Teach them how to live, how society works, how it might work, how it should work, how it mustn’t work, how to treat other people, what’s the difference between right and wrong, and several different frameworks for deciding that.

Teach them that corporate jargon nearly always disguises a malevolent purpose- although actually, via negative reinforcement, you are already doing this, and you are empowering those students who have malevolent intent or those weak-willed enough to fall into line with it.

So don’t be mindless jargonising corporate robots ready to “create change” – is that good change or bad change. I mean Hitler “created change” right? So did Albert Einstein. What sort of change do you want? Hitler or Einstein? Change isn’t a unalloyed good and how can you teach the students the difference if you clearly don’t know that difference yourself?