Have you ever been on the sharp end of a question like that?
It’s a bit ‘rude’, innit?
BUT…that’s exactly the question (OK…I used the term ‘smarty-pants’ to convey the stress and intonation used…as well as some of the facial expressions I saw) that I have been asked in a number of conversations since I started:
…in the last few posts I have being doing:
- Is Hazırlık BROKEN?
- Is it our ‘Curriculum Thunking’ wot is BROKEN?
- Could it be our understanding of ‘Quality’…that is BROKEN, perhaps?
- So…Hazırlık is BROKEN! – Time to play…
(BTW – ‘hazırlık’ is the Turkish term for the English Language Preparatory Programmes run by many universities here…just so you know)!
Perhaps, I should just remind those people what my dear friend Hannibal ‘does’ with rude people…
I know, I know…I shouldn’t get upset by these types of questions. I know I have put myself in the firing line by popping my head out of the box.
…just wait till I do the series on what actually happens in faculty departments!
The thing is that…this type of question started to be dropped into my in-box and the comments section of the posts before I’d even got to the second blog post. Some of them were not as rude…they were genuine questions, from genuine people…facing many of the genuine ‘problems’ that I was trying to draw attention to.
For Peter, these types of questions are (usually) a defense against getting an ‘improvement effort’ started, a defense against change.
…so sad! …so true! …so common!
Now, I’m not so sure that everyone who asks a HOW-question is running from the truth (or is trying to postpone actually doing something about a problem). However, Peter’s questions are used a heck of a lot by people in our hazırlık schools (and the guys that ‘control’ these schools with their ‘decision-making’) – especially those with those heady job titles we discussed.
Very few of these hazırlık stakeholders, for example, ask one of the ‘alternative questions’ suggested by Peter:
…I wonder why, acaba? We’ll come back to this – promise!
Instead, many hazırlık stakeholders (including LEARNers…and their parents) ask questions like this:
This question tells us a lot.
- Firstly, that these stakeholders are more interested in an ‘answer-orientated’ approach to ‘quality education’ – you know, ‘quick fixes’ or ‘magic bullets’.
- Secondly, that they have more ‘faith’ in others (esp. foreigners…and, even better, foreign consultants) than they do in themselves and their own abilities.
- Thirdly, that all it takes to ‘fix’ a problem is to do a bit more “alıntı, çalıntı and mış-gibi yapmak” (the Turkish translation for “borrowing, ripping off, and faking-it-till-you-make-it”).
Silly…misguided…(and) just plain dumb!
These people often jump to other questions (when they stumble onto a ‘solution’ they can ‘import’) – questions like these:
Mmmm…we were asking why so many Mütivelli Heyeti Başkanlar (Chairmen…and they are often ‘men’…of the Board) wanted to increase contact hours and class size!
Now, you know…
You see, many hazırlık stakeholders want the ‘cheapest’ version of the ‘quick fix’ possible – without really lifting a finger (for hazırlık that is…the Engineering Faculty can, as a rule, get whatever the bloody hell it wants). The question about length of time required kinda gives this away, too!
…my favourite question is this one:
What were we saying about the blame game?
…after all, it’s so easy to point the finger…when you do not really want to ‘fix’ stuff. Of course, we all want to give the impression that we…us…ourselves…have no trouble going the extra mile (to put LEARNing at the heart of our decision-making).
…it’s just THEM…THEY…those (bloody) OTHERS – that ‘stop’ us!
And…if that don’t work, we always have the other…
…up our sleeves!
The combination of a culture of blame (along with its sister culture – ‘CYA’) and our unquestioning worship of “how-to” pragmatism (constantly asking “how” – rarely “why”) basically means that most of our hazırlık schools are doing more and more about things that mean less and less – for both LEARNers and EDUcators!
The first of Peter’s alternative questions (the one I promised to come back to) has much to do with my current theme:
…is one for all stakeholders – teachers, administrators (including Rectors and the Mütevelli Heyeti), testing and curriculum specialists and LEARNers (no…they are not angels either). Rather than pointing the finger or passing-the-buck, this question asks us all to take personal responsibility for whatever might be ‘broken’ across our hazırlık schools.
Yes, ‘being’ truthful – before ‘telling the truth’!
Peter tells us that other questions can help us get to this question:
…questions that recognise we need to ‘question’ our ‘purpose’ – and how well we might be meeting that purpose…and how far we believe (in our heart of hearts) that it is possible to create new kinds of LEARNing institutions (and workplaces) grounded on more positive values, such as respect, trust and listening…
…questions that require us to look at the reasons we have been putting off the ‘fixes’ all of us know are in the best interests of the individuals and communities that live, LEARN and work in our institutions:
…and commit to ‘do’ whatever it takes to make these things happen!
Yes…even LEARNers…especially with LEARNers!
This is where you scroll back to the top…while I draft Pt 02 of 03!