Assessment, Higher Education, Teaching Methods

The Right Stuff

No, I mean The Right Answer. What is the right answer? What is the right solution? What is the right conclusion? What is the right thinking? What did I say? What is the right answer?

It is very, very important for students to know the right stuff. They must be able to answer questions the right way. They must arrive at the right conclusions when reading a paper. They must reach the right outcome during a discussion. They must reach the right conclusions in the right way. They must be able to describe a reaction the right way. They must be right or they will be wrong.

Not only must they be right, but we must structure our methods of information delivery in order to ensure that the students are always right.

When you lecture, make sure that all the students are looking at you. You are the individual who knows the right answers. Rather than let the students take notes, you should provide them with pre-prepared PowerPoint handouts so that they don’t misunderstand and write down something wrong. When you allow them a few minutes to discuss something in class, make sure that you get all of them to come to the right conclusion before the end. Ensure that you require a textbook that has all the right answers in it. After all, it is our purpose to ensure that they always get the right answer.

If you run seminar groups or regularly have presentations in your classes, you must maintain complete control at all times in order to ensure that the students come to the right conclusions. They must interpret the papers and ideas the right way, and it is your job to ensure that they always get it right. Even if there is some controversy in a field, they should know that the right answer is that there is controversy in the field.

In order to properly transmit information to our students today, they must demonstrate that they know the right stuff.

Your primary purpose, after having transmitted the right information, is to grade the students on their quality. Grade A students get more right stuff than grade B students, grade C students, or grade D students. Anything lower than a Grade D student is someone who doesn’t get the right answers at all. They have failed in their basic learning to get the right answer.

Control of a classroom and the information that is considered appropriate to consider is another vital job that you must do. You must ensure that new ideas of thoughts do not dilute the purity of your information. New ideas and thoughts can greatly disturb the tranquility of information transfer, and these must be dealt with in as timely a manner as possible. There are several ways to ensure that the information transfer always points directly to the right answer in order to ensure that your students are able to demonstrate their ability to always (or at least sometimes for a poorer quality student) get the right answer.

There are several ways to maintain the purity of the information flow from teacher to student. The most common, and least offensive way to control any potential disruption in the information flow is to ask the offending, non-conforming, questioning student to see you after class. Another effective method is a well-considered jargon-filled technical answer that you know will be missed by every student listening. The answer doesn’t even have to be right, just confusing enough to the students that they will have no idea what you are talking about. An added benefit is that you will receive the honor of being considered hyper-brilliant by the students in general as they talk about you outside of class. Finally, there is the frowned upon, but the highly effective method of ridiculing the student in front of their peers. This method may be officially frowned upon, but the benefit of using this method is that your class sizes will be kept small and your information transmission will be mostly uninterrupted, allowing you to maintain complete control of the purity of the classroom experience.

The method of choice for keeping students focussed on the right answers and not be distracted by anything other than memorization is, of course, a large lecture. Large lectures are specifically designed to foster the unidirectional, uninterrupted flow of information. The design and expectations for any lecture are for you to deliver information that the students are expected to memorize and return to you, exactly as delivered, as a demonstration of their ability to always get the right answer. In addition, the assessments used in large lectures will always ensure convergent thinking through the ever popular and easily administered multiple-choice exam or tightly scripted correct answers (for marking support, of course) in order to eliminate anything that might appear to invite thinking.

Although lectures are ideal, seminars can also be highly effective in controlling for any unwanted thinking and ensuring that the students converge on the right answers. By always selecting the papers that are acceptable for discussion, convergence is required. One of the biggest advantages of this method is that you, as the teacher, can appear to give control of the classroom to the students while ensuring that the students all arrive at the right answer through both highly visible non-verbal cues or by subtle directive comments that keep any discussion from straying from the accepted orthodoxy of the topic. Always the right answer.

In the rare case where a teacher is not conforming to the acceptable methods of maintaining proper conformity in education, here are a couple of suggestions. Rumour works well. Students love to be included in the gossip of adults, so the occasional tidbit about Dr. So&sos teaching works well. Professional ostracising works as well. Occasionally, if the individual refuses to conform, public humiliation can be an effective tool. And, if the heretical, nonconformist insists on allowing students to question and actually encourages students to think, a private humiliation by a senior authority figure from within the institution may be necessary. No matter what, there must be conformity in, not necessarily the methods used, but the quest for the convergence of information to a right answer in the minds of the students.

This enlightened methodology of maintaining a conforming, non-thinking population is both modern in form and able to appear innovative and dynamic. Gamification or flipped classrooms may appear different, but both are designed to result in convergent thinking with the right answers as the only reward.

Traditional methods of maintaining conformity relied on the adherence of ancient texts and dogmatic tradition. Current control methods have ridiculed and destroyed the faith of the general populace for the reliance of fire and brimstone blasting from a pulpit as a method of control. Instead, the new methods use podiums, PowerPoints, handouts, tests, grades, and (most importantly) qualifications – all based on the right answers and strict conformity.

As a community, we must maintain our momentum in maintaining the right answer as the ultimate quest, using the most powerful tools ever devised to maintain a conforming and unquestioning population. And, we have managed to convince them that the eternal pursuit of the right answer for the test is proper learning!

The nameless and faceless powers that be thank you for your unending quest to stamp out thinking while appearing to do just the opposite. You will receive your rewards in the next world where you will have untold riches and prosperity.

Again – Thank-you!

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