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Professor makes his mark, but it costs him his job

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posted on Feb, 8 2009 @ 10:37 PM
reply to post by grimreaper797

I am glad that you are like that but most people are not and have to put some kind of effort into that memory.

My point was, the students grade, or the reflection of how well he has learned the material, is largely reflective of how much effort he puts into learning.

That is why I do not like things like this, a student who does nothing in this class will get the same grade as someone who works his # off to earn it.

The proffessor has dressed this up as avant-guarde, but all he's really doing is coddling the flunkies.

posted on Feb, 8 2009 @ 10:38 PM
I truly understand why he did this. He is a good teacher that wants people involved and to love the subject. People often ask why I didn't finish my degree and it was because in three years of classes I only had two instructors that made the classroom alive and involved the students. That and I was offered a job for which I was taking classes.

The majority would plop into their chair and say, "Read chapters 4,5,6 and there will be a test tomorrow." As the students pulled out their books and began reading the instructor would lean back and sip on his/her coffee while appearing to daydream out the window. The involved professors made learning so "fun" that it came naturally and information was retained for so much longer.

posted on Feb, 8 2009 @ 10:47 PM
reply to post by asmeone2

Grant it, I understand your position, and I can agree with it, this wasn't a class of high school students or some random community college class. As far as I am aware this was a very high level physics course, unless I have been misled. In such a class, I think it is safe to assume the students are already certain they are going into this field and aren't simply there for the degree. Most of them are there to learn the material anyway, and are going to try hard regardless.

The way he saw it was if these kids are going to try either way, because they are there to learn the material, why not get the grading out of the way, and try to inspire individual thought.

Again, I think he went about it wrong, though I commend his intent. I still think he could have went about it much better.

posted on Feb, 8 2009 @ 10:59 PM
reply to post by grimreaper797

A graduate degree student has a lot more effort and will to be there, sure, but that does not mean that they are going to ace everything put before them or not laze out... plenty of lazy/stupid grad students in my father's classes.

If anything a grad student should be judged more harshly in some ways. In an undergrad class one learns the technical side of a field, but at the graduate level, he has to argue a position.

But we are agreed, he did go about this incorrectly, it seems like he got fired much more for circumventing university policy than for his views.

posted on Feb, 8 2009 @ 11:47 PM
Reminds me of the Robin Williams film Dead Poets Society.

The only thing missing, however, is the student outcry when their professor is dismissed.

Where are all the devoted students calling for his reinstatement? Surely, giving away grades must have made him liked by at least some of the class.

Or, perhaps he was too left-of-centre to be appreciated by any of them at all.

posted on Feb, 9 2009 @ 03:06 AM

Originally posted by dirtonwater
I am suprised at the people who think this guy did a good thing.

So lets say I want to be a lawyer. I am totally stupid but have the money for law school. So, according to this prof, I just pay the money and get all A's. I don't have to learn anything. No effort. Just pay the money. Cool.


George W. Bush? Is that you?

But seriously, the examples you give, lawyers and surgeons, both take standardized tests before being admitted to graduate schools. Also, lawyers still have to pass a bar exam after law school and doctors get weeded out during their residency.

As far as academia are concerned, I think grades are an indication of work ethic and not necessarily and indication of knowledge in a given subject. While not completely accurate, grades can still gauge a student's proficiency.

posted on Feb, 9 2009 @ 08:30 AM

Originally posted by cognoscente

How could you even say that? There are alternatives to University. You are absolutely free to take a different route. The University should NOT modify itself just to appease your poor intellectual appetite. I am totally enthusiastic about every dumb little course I take. If you lack the mental faculties to transform all that "stupid information" into something personally valuable, that says a lot about your deficiency in character. I've absorbed everything I can from Anthropology, Philosophy, Math, Economics, Sociology, Game Theory, and much more. I'm ready to write my own god damn treatise on human nature.

there are but i guess i just expected it to be a place of higher learning, now since im there i will just get through it,

besides this way i dont have to go out and work

i dont lack the mental capacities to transform "stupid knowledge", i lack the motivation because it shouldnt be stupid in the first place

And i agree the university should not modify itself to appease me, society should modify itself, but what i like to say is if you cant change it from the inside, control it from the outside.

I think this all comes down to what we value. If you think something is useless just because you will earn less money from it than learning something else, that's one place we differ. If you think the amount of money you earn is a representation of your "contribution to society" then that's another. Our system for the division of labor in a capitalist society is what is creating these divergences in the perspective of value. I honestly don't blame you. There is an increasing dichotomy between the natural human condition (a desire to be creative, to learn through exploration and freedom of thought) and the societal functions we are expected to play in adulthood and in the labor market in particular. This difference is becoming harder and harder to reconcile as time goes. As capitalism expands, a lot of people are becoming richer by way of extricating this natural human condition, ultimately leading to the ossification of society and its few remaining value systems.

first off i care nothing for money, it is just a means to an end, unlike all the rest of the slaves who think its their god.

also you just agreed with me that the society is malfunctioned,

In Canada and the U.S. we are definitely heading toward an information-based, post industrial society. So I believe a lot of these things will be remedied in the future. But it might also place a burden on students and young entrepreneurs to become even more inflexible in the way they receive and process information.

I don't know which way we're heading but we would all be a lot better off if people were just more enthusiastic in their studies, regardless of what they were learning. There is so much that people just don't realize they are capable of. If you are only completing your degree to earn a pay raise at the local firm, and if you're not doing this as a means to advancing your career in some purposeful way, then there is no point of even going. You would be much better off starting your own business, or roughing it out in the private sector through sheer experience and determination, or at least acquiring some basic skills at a technical college.

no, students should be more enthusiastic about learning things that they feel is important to them, the point is that again the system is set up for slaves not humans, so those who refuse to be slaves are out of place, unless they become slave owners

and your saying we should just lay down and accept the things they teach us, well to me thats accepting my new life as a slave.

id like to give you an example of the only time i got motivated in grade 12:

for my family studies class, i was getting around 68 - 72, wasnt really paying attention in class, didnt care too much

so one day our teacher assigns the biggest assignment of the year, a 5 page essay on a topic of your choosing, (i cant even remember my topic)

so the due date was on a tuesday, tuesday morning came and i hadnt even started, i knew i would have to hand it in late,

my first period class, my friend from class tells me that the due date had been expanded to thursday

i didnt know this because i had skipped the last class, also the teacher conspired with all the other student not to tell me so that i would worry (i was the class clown, funner than being a teachers pet)

not this scheme turned on something inside me that wanted to prove them wrong, so i went home after first period class and worked for 3 1/2 hours straight to hand in that essay on time

i ended up handing it in at the end of class, a few months later we got our essays back and i had got a 96% on it

best mark in the class, and there were some pretty "smart" people in the class

it was funny to see the looks on peoples faces when i showed them my mark

but the point is everyone has different motivational triggers, and even though i got 96% on that assignment, i still cant remember learning anything from what i wrote about.

some people are just made for this slave system, and some arent.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 08:33 PM
reply to post by dirtonwater

You are neglecting the fact that the professor wants his students to pursue learning, not a grade. His approach works well with motivated students. With unmotivated, incurious students, nothing works. George Bush was doubtless one such student.

In your hypothetical example, a student who went through law school without trying, but who was given "A"s, would be exposed soon enough.

posted on Feb, 12 2009 @ 02:04 PM
The logic of many naysayers here is quite flawed. Just because one has a Juris Doctorate does not qualify one to practice law; there are also state, and for some things national, standards/certifications that must be met/obtained before one can practice. This is true of all degrees to some extent. I think it has been said already, but is worth reiteration...the purpose of higher learning institutions has been lost in many cases to the desire simply for a bigger paycheck. It doesn't help that we always hear the statistics "on average, PhDs earn x percent more than those with a lesser degree, etc., etc., etc." and, for the most part, the United States is a greedy country. I personally like the idea of no grades, not because I did poorly, I didn't...but because it takes some of the pressure off (I don't do my best under pressure). So what if there is some richy rich kid there simply to waste daddy's money and get that prestigious won't take too long for a potential employer to find out how much or how little he/she learned. It doesn't have to be about the grades, those that want to learn will while those that don't will not. Why not make it more inviting for those that really want to learn? I have a few friends who would love to get an "advanced" degree because they are genuinely interested in learning, but feel the environment in most institutions is much too competitive so they stay away. Hope this makes sense to some.

posted on Apr, 22 2009 @ 08:08 PM

Wednesday, April 22 2009 @ 08:05 PM CDT

GDC Local 6 Rallies for Dissident Professor Rancourt's Reinstatement

The University of Ottawa fired Denis Rancourt, a physics professor, renowned researcher, and IWW member on March 31, 2009, while he was speaking at an academic freedom conference in New York City.

The university sought to dismiss him on the basis that he had awarded high grades to a graduate level physics class, which Rancourt says he did in order to remove competition and performance as they are obstacles to learning. The university claimed that Rancourt’s marking damaged the institution’s credibility as an academic institution.

Rancourt has said that the university’s board fired him before an April 1 deadline to submit a legal brief in his defense and that it ignored his submission of his students’ exams as proof that he was evaluating students properly. The university disregarded the union’s collective agreement and the grievance procedure by firing Rancourt without allowing him due process in his defense.

The Association of Professors (APUO), a registered trade union that represents university faculty, has announced it will launch an inquiry and it will likely appeal the firing in court.

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 08:38 AM
Ah the plot thickens... no wonder the no-grade charge seemed so over the top... looks like Rancourt's views on the Israeli/Palestine conflict were the real reason behind his removal.

From his official statement on his dismissal:

It appears that among the real reasons for the university’s attempts to discipline me since September 2005 and for its recent most harsh actions against me under President Allan Rock’s mandate might be the administration’s opposition to my political views about the Palestine-Israel conflict, which, starting in 2005, I have expressed in articles, on radio, in my blog postings, at public venues, and in my classes. In September 2005 the dean cancelled my Physics and the Environment course following a complaint (regarding an email comment about Zionism), channelled through the university’s Canadian Studies Institute director Pierre Anctil to the VP-Academic. A complaint against an invited speaker in the course, Professor Michel Chossudovsky – who spoke about Middle East geopolitics, from the Jewish Student Association then gave rise to a sustained but failed attempt to discipline me. In 2006 I invited two Canadian-Palestinian speakers to address the class in my Science in Society course. This was followed by a damning January-2007 editorial in The Ottawa Citizen and I was subsequently removed from teaching all the first-year courses that I had developed. The Ottawa Citizen is a CanWest newspaper and its director is a member of the university’s Board of Governors.2 CanWest Global Communications Corporation is a staunch advocate and supporter of Israeli policy. In 2007 I criticized the university’s official position on the academic boycott of Israel on my blog. The repression against me intensified when new university president Allan Rock, a staunch supporter of Israeli policy (see footnote in following post), arrived on the scene in July 2008. I was disciplined for the UofOWatch blog with an unpaid suspension in September 2008, by a decision of the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors (EBOG). The latter suspension was followed by many more severe actions against me (see below) and is being used by the university as an argument in my dismissal.

The university became markedly more aggressive in its attacks against me after the arrival of Allan Rock in July 2008. Whereas, previous disciplines that started in 2005 were limited to letters of reprimand and of allegation (all withdrawn or overturned), the arrival of former federal politician and proven supporter of Israeli policy Allan Rock coincided with:

- my removal from all teaching
- a one-day suspension without pay for my blog critical of the university,
- an unannounced lockout from my laboratory actuated under false pretext,
- dismantling of my laboratory,
- my removal from my graduate students,
- reprisals and intimidations against my graduate students,
- university-imposed unilateral deregistration of my undergraduate research student,
- an unannounced firing of my research associate of 12 years,
- my suspension from all my duties,
- my physical barring from campus, including from my weekly campus radio show,
- a lockout from my office,
- my police arrest under a false claim of trespassing while hosting my regular weekly Cinema Academica event,
- public university statements defaming me, and
- my dismissal – allegedly for having assigned twenty three A+s in a combined fourth-year and graduate physics course.

The March 31st university decision to dismiss me was itself tainted with Israel-aligned political influence. The decision was made by the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors (EBOG) with members Allan Rock and Ruth Freiman present.

[edit on 25-5-2009 by The All Seeing I]

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 10:07 AM
Everything checks out in the footnotes

Allan Rock’s ardent support for Israeli policy is evidenced both in his political career and in his actions on campus as president at the University of Ottawa: In 2004, under Martin’s Liberal government and as Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, Allan Rock changed Canada’s longstanding foreign policy on Israel from abstaining on human rights resolutions for Palestine to being one of the few countries in the World that vote with the US and Israel against UN human rights resolutions for Palestine. In July 2008 the media reported that Allan Rock participated in a trip to Israel “partly financed by the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA)”, along with five other Canadian university presidents. The media reported that Mr. Rock’s visit “yielded immediate results” as “the University of Ottawa agreed to launch an exchange program in law.” After a few months in office, President Allan Rock announced his plan in October 2008 for the University of Ottawa. This plan included what he calls putting “Canada’s University in the service of the World”. In explaining it to students on October 24, 2008, he talked about exchange programs. When one student asked if Palestinian students would be allowed to participate in the exchange programs with Israel, Mr. Rock stated that he could not answer that. In the fall of 2008, the University of Ottawa chapter of the independent student-run Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) took a principled stand in line with its mission statement and refused to sponsor a Hillel event due to that organization’s stated unqualified support for Israeli policy. Allan Rock responded by pressuring the student union (SFUO) president to write a letter condemning OPIRG. A letter from the SFUO president delineated the administrative relationships between the SFUO and OPIRG and this letter was made public by Allan Rock on his president’s “Rock Talk” blog. Allan Rock also publicly stated that he would look for an “administrative” mechanism to deny OPIRG student-levy funding (which has been approved by a student referendum). In 2009 the Rock administration banned a student poster announcing Israeli Apartheid Week - a move widely criticized in some media such as the CBC and in the student media. This type of interventions by a president of the University of Ottawa in the affairs of student groups and associations was unprecedented. It is consistent with the increased political influences in recent years from pro-Israel-policy groups on Canadian campuses - documented in the media, such as in this February 18, 2009, CBC-Ottawa radio report (in real media audio format).

[edit on 25-5-2009 by The All Seeing I]

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 10:24 AM
If he was spouting off his views on Israel-Palestine during class, then I feel the university does have the right to terminate him from the classroom. Whether he supported Israel or Palestine, if you spend your time talking about a controversial political subject, instead of the subject your students are paying hundreds of dollars a piece for you to teach, then you're not doing your job.

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 12:13 PM
You are too hard on calculators. In order to use the calculator properly you must also know which keys to hit. For instance you are in an accounting class. Your task is to figure the current value of varying cash flows. Lets say $1338 for 28 years + $1664 for 32 years + 2189 for 35 years. Interest rate is 6% the first 6 years, 8% the next 10 years and 7% thereafter. To work out that one question without a caculator would take up most if not all time allotted to a single test. It is a waste of everyone's time to do simple addittion, multiplication and the such. However if you don't know the formula you won't be able to get the answer out of your calculator, so to succeed, even with a calculator, you have to know the basis of the math behind it.

The truth is that once you leave school and get a job, what you know and how you perform will determine your success. The grades only get you in the door. If you had bad grades yet excel at your job, you will move up much faster than one who had good grades and does a poor job.

I do think that rather than giving numerical or alpha grades, grading should be done on a pass/fail basis. You either have sufficent knowledge to move on or you don't.

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 12:32 PM
Hmmm...well many moons ago when I was going for my undergrad and then my grad degree I had a bit of a revalation about my classes and prof's.

It went something like this...

"Hey! Most of these prof's don't care and don't want to know what I think. No matter how much I back up what I think they'll mark it wrong. The prof's want me to just repeat to them what THEY think."

So, I changed my study habits to include a study of the prof as well as the subject. Focusing on what the prof thought and wanted to hear and then just telling them that on the tests and papers. When I adopted that method my grades went up by quite a bit.

This was probably 15-20 years ago. But my wife just now got her undergrad and started on her grad degree. It appears the system is still the same now as it was then based on what she's seen.

Prof's that actually wanted to know what I thought and the reasons behind it were few and far between.

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 12:47 PM
reply to post by Frogs

You and your wife's experiences show a reconfirmation of Rancourt's pedagogy, as he has stated on his intro page:

With grades students learn to guess the professor's mind and to obey. It is a very sophisticated machinery, whereby the natural desire to learn, the intrinsic motivation to want to learn something because you are interested in the thing itself, is destroyed. Grades are the carrot and stick that shape obedient employees and that prepare students for the higher level indoctrinations of graduate and professional schools. The only way to develop independent thinking in the classroom is to give freedom, to break the power relationship by removing the instrument of power.

Also interesting to note the story behind his choosing A+

The stated reason for the University of Ottawa's actions is Rancourt's assigning of A+ grades to all students in a fourth-year physics course (PHY 4385 - cross-listed with PHY 5100) in the Winter 2008 term. Rancourt gave out the grades, which were officially approved by the university, because he believes that rank-ordering students is at odds with effective pedagogy. Thus, to achieve a similar effect as the pass/fail system, which is not approved at U of O, Rancourt handed students the highest possible grade so that they could not try to do any "better" and thus, in his view, focus their attention on learning. Rancourt has asserted that: "Socrates did not give grades...[m]y job is to educate. Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that what we've been doing with the grading system doesn't work. We are creating obedient employees, but not people who think."

[edit on 25-5-2009 by The All Seeing I]

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 12:57 PM
reply to post by FSBlueApocalypse

From what i have gathered his views on the middle east were mostly shared outside of class, with the exception to his Science in Society course when it touched base on geopolitics. Even though many of these out side of class functions were on campus affairs which he voluntarily participated in, he was only exercising his freedom of speech as a member of the college community.

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 02:42 PM
reply to post by The All Seeing I

That true. I did have a very few prof's that were intrested more in the thinking process than the route material. If you could argue your point they admired and respected that. But, as I said they were few.

Grades in college kind of became almost a "loop" effect the way I looked at it. Q&A below-

Who gives the grades and decides what is correct? - The prof.

What is most likey to be marked correct? - What the prof thinks is correct.

What are the reasons it's correct? - Whatever the prof's reasons are for thinking its correct.

I'll even make a confession - for my capstone class of my master's my team and I had to deliver an indepth analysis of a case study with recommendations. Leading up to this we had been watching the prof. We knew what he thought, how he liked things phrased and that he dearly loved charts and graphs with all his heart.

Our paper was 15 pages long, 6 pages of which were charts and graphs. The entire paper was geared toward him, not the mythical board of directors it was supposed to be for.

We got the highest grade in the class - an A+. The next highest grade was a B and that paper was 80 pages long and in reality much more in depth than our work.

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