Laurie Taylor Column

February 17, 2006

Ah, Maureen, there you are. Still coping?

One does one's best, Professor Lapping.

Maureen, I'd like you to send a top-priority e-mail to all members of department drawing their attention to the recent survey by Oxford University's educational studies department.

"Recent survey". Yes, I've got that. What's next?

Go on to point out that this is the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of staff views of new undergraduates.

"The most comprehensive ever undertaken."

And that it confirms all the things that we've been saying about our own intake for the past five years.

What sort of things?

Well, it confirms that they lack any sign of independent thought.

You mean they can't think for themselves? They more or less have to wait until they're told what to do by a higher authority?

That's right.

And they lack any ideas of their own?

Right again.

And they no longer have any ability to read critically? They accept any old nonsense that is thrown at them without questioning its meaning?

Absolutely.

And, what's more, they're now interested only in the next assessment? They can't cope with self-directed work unless it's going to gain them some extra points? They're able to handle only short-term thinking?

That's it exactly. You know, Maureen, you have an exceptionally perceptive grasp of this syndrome. It's almost as though you've made a close study of such behaviour.

One does one's best, Professor Lapping.

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