Hegel, don’t bother me!
One of the leading members of our rapidly diminishing Philosophy Department, Dr D. W. Dingbat, has responded vigorously to the suggestion from American philosophers Mariana Alessandri and John Kaag that “perhaps we should stop trying to market philosophy because doing so demeans it”.
Dr Dingbat told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that he believed marketing was now an intrinsic part of higher education and that there need be nothing “demeaning” about drawing attention to some of philosophy’s core concepts. He instanced the range of stalls operated by his department on Poppleton University’s recent Open Day. These included:
- Visit Plato’s Cave! Can you see the famous shadows on the wall?
- Splash Splash. Try to beat old Heraclitus by stepping into the same river twice.
- Hey, get that hipster beard in trim with Occam’s notorious razor!
- Yes, it’s the Bishop Berkeley lamp post. Have a good kick and see if you think it’s real!
- What are the odds on eternal life? 20-1, 50-1, 100-1? Roll up and take the Pascalian wager!
“Frankly, I don’t believe a word of it.” That was how Janet Fluellen, our Director of Curriculum Development, responded to the news that the 24,000 undergraduates sampled by the Higher Education Academy’s UK Engagement Survey showed little improvement over the course of their university careers in such “soft skills” as ethics, creativity and citizenship.
Ms Fluellen said that it was impossible to understand how students could fail to show any ethical development when they spent so much of their time on campus being taught by seriously underpaid postgraduates or being personally supervised by academics who were otherwise busily engaged in rigging their research excellence framework returns.
It was, she said, equally impossible to understand how undergraduates could fail to develop “creativity” when they were being lectured by dons who were even now abandoning anything that was personal or distinctive about their pedagogic style in order to prepare themselves for the restricted metrical requirements of the new teaching excellence framework.
But, according to Ms Fluellen, what was “most incredible” was the survey’s finding that students failed to develop “citizenship skills”.
“One would really have thought”, she said, “that young people who have been given the wonderful opportunity to borrow an average of £53,000 in order to pay for their degree course and their basic maintenance would have been only too ready to show their appreciation by becoming proud and grateful and responsible members of our society going forward.”
This is to confirm that, following the Cecil Rhodes precedent set by the University of Cape Town, the large statue of David Willetts that currently stands outside the new Administrative Block will be removed from campus during the Xmas break and taken to a place of execution.
Jennifer Doubleday is on Decorating Leave.