Thursday, December 09, 2004

Of politicians, quality teaching and aerobatics

So for two hours today, it was university politics, with a state university trustee at the front of the meeting room and the usual annoying questions from me in the peanut gallery (aka Faculty Senate). But the fun of asking annoying -- and to the point -- questions, is what makes journalism fun for me. I knew that at least half of the answers were going to make their way into stories and the other half of the information would suggest things I should be writing about.

And, boy, are there things I should be writing about.

In the late 1980s, all we talked about at journalism conventions was how the new computer technologies were taking over the profession -- and we loved the new technologies.

But we stopped talking about ethics, morals and standards and I think the price we paid is now evident on television in places like the Fox Nut Network. Oops, I mean Fox News Network. In print, it's harder to decipher, unless you read USA Today.

So in the University setting, all we hear about is money and budget, budget and money. No one asks about how it is going in the classroom, or if we can accommodate the influx of students, or, most important, if the quality of instruction in the classroom is what it was, say, even five years ago.

The question isn't asked because the quality has slipped as faculty have become overburdened with too many students, too few resources and a bureaucracy that is numbing the number of arcane rules it imposes that result in the stifling of creativity and discourage faculty from doing the teaching that's needed.

Still, it was a good day, because my questions made a few people (faculty and administrators) think about the issue of quality instruction and what we have to do to preserve it.

And, journalistically, I picked up a couple of story ideas that I will publish to keep the fires burning.

That's a good day, for a writer. And a good way to avoid thinking about going up in a small plane in 36 hours to do a few barrel rolls.

Up, up and away, soon enough.

mjf 12/0/04

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