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This-essay is a8509071.htm which is available at the web-site See more notes at the bottom. Previous-Essay <== This-Essay ==> Following-Essay By-Months By-Years By-Words Webs of Like-&-Un-Like ESSAYS <==> Like-&-UN-Like This-One ========================================================== %FOCUS UPON STUDENTS IMPERFECTIONS 850907 Scientists seek to be secure in their publications of their findings by focusing upon the imperfections in their findings. They try to prove their theories wrong with as much diligence as would their most severe critic, to leave no flaw for their most severe critic to find. Scientists seek to achieve security by being sure that they have not overlooked any imperfection. Amazingly often upon the discovery of an imperfection it is possible to take action to make improvements. The discovery of the imperfection is a significant step to correcting it, and the person making the discovery of an imperfection is honored for that discovery. Focusing upon imperfections is thus a way to gain respect and honor within professional scientific circles. The scientist who has been trained exclusively in research activities learns to focus upon imperfections to fulfill research ideals. In preparation for being college and university professors such persons are virtually never trained in regards to complementary personal ideals appropriate to helping students to learn science with integrity. Due to this lack scientists carry into their instructional activities the same ideals and attitudes which they were trained to have in the contrasting context of research work. As instructors research scientists tend to focus upon students imperfections. Because they do not know how to help students they expect students to perfect themselves. The professor's responsibility is limited to defining goals and disclosing imperfections. The student who respects such a conception of the professors' responsibilities is trapped in an impossible situation. The professor defines the goal to be the acquisition of a comprehensive knowledge of physics to pass a Ph.D. qualifying exam. The professors have no responsibility to help students to prepare for the exam. Since the exam is to be comprehensive the professors have no responsibility to define the limited range of knowledge which students must master; nothing is to be excluded. The professors' only responsibility is to be severe in discovering what the students failed to learn. Students who respect their professors are thus lead condemn themselves for their imperfections and the impossibility of fulfilling their respected professors' expectations. Only students who do not respect their professors are free to transcend the absurdities of their personally immature professors expectations. The students who do not respect their professors as instructors manage to succeed without help from their professors, and become the next generation of professors who believe that good students do not need to have help from their professors. Good students like themselves are able to perfect themselves. It is the professor's responsibility to focus upon discovering the imperfections in theories, experiments, data, equipment, and students. Students who respect their professors face an impossible task of learning all the physics that all professors know. Paralysis is bound to set in. They can not get started. They can not try to find out what is that they do not know because they can be sure that there is an infinity of things that they do not know. To maintain sanity procrastination is a necessity. Only fools seriously set themselves to picking up a stone of infinite mass or to chipping a stone of infinite mass into an infinite number of stones which might be picked up. The way research oriented professors teach classes helps to accentuate the disadvantage imposed upon students who respect their professors. In classes the professors affirm the infinity of what is to be learned, but pointedly refuse to deal with any particular knowledge in enough detail to help students understand how to solve real problems such as might appear on a Ph.D. qualifier examination. Relevance is left for the student to discover. Lecture is only for the purpose of sketching the outline of the infinity of theories. Since all knowledge is equally important and all knowledge is to be learned it is improper to guide students to focus their limited time upon some things as more important than other things. Only students who do not respect their professors can succeed and grow up to be physicists who do not respect other professors and students as persons in search of personal and communal integrity. It is easy for scientists to focus upon students' imperfections because they have been taught to treat everything objectively, including students. Students are to be tested objectively, else the testing is not fair and free of bias. Objectivity is the key to goodness. Emotional involvement and sympathy is bound to introduce bias. This makes it natural to be ignorant of the affective consequences of focusing primarily upon students imperfections. To fulfill the objective/analytic paradigm of the research scientist one must keep ignorant of the affective consequences of treating students objectively and of trying to help them by pointing out their imperfections while withholding positive assistance and encouragement. Thus each generation of research scientists is less personable than the previous one and the quality of help offered to each generation of students is more perverse than was offered to the last generation. Meanwhile the total amount of knowledge which may be expected to be known by each generation of Ph.D. candidates increases and so makes it easier and easier to find students' imperfections. Each generation of professors can feel more proud of how successful they are compared to the previous generation at the task of discovering students imperfections. They can be objectively proud of their superiority in this regard. (c) 2005 by Paul A. Smith in Search for Integrity and Honesty (On Being Yourself, Whole and Healthy) ==========================================================
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