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Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Hillary, Alyssa. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Hillary, A. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Syllabus Standards (in English this time!)

I finally got around to it, here's the English version of my piece about syllabus standards that I wrote in Chinese. Between paragraphs I toss out some comments about "so... if I had the language to say this instead/in addition I totally would, remember that this is me trying to write quickly in a second language."

The whole world has been getting more global, and education needs to change to reflect that. The (dean? president? not sure which) of New York University said that students should be able to study at multiple places. He thinks the whole world's universities should adopt one set of course/curriculum standards.This is because all having one set of standards would let more students study at more places. No matter what major a student has, they'd be able to go to another university to study for a semester or a year.
Ok, so it's really just very privileged college students who have the opportunity to do study abroad/away most of the time. Just remember that. Making it available to more people is a thing that I like, but remember that this isn't the case. (Minor plug for the Gilman here, because while it's generally not going to pay for a program on it's own, it has making study abroad available to more people as a goal.)

Also, who's coming up with the one set of standards? If western colleges, hello more imperialism and hello more whitewashing of history. Who's deciding what majors are getting standards written for them?
But making all the colleges use the same set of course standards would hurt some students. Students with unusual majors. For example, not all mechanical engineering programs are identical.From professors to archtects, from mechatronics experts to nanotechnology researchers, mechanical engineers do different things. Even though these people can all be called mechanical engineers, their specialties are not the same. Since I do nanotechnology research, the curriculum that best suits me isn't the same as that of most of my fellow students. If all the course standards were the same, it would be very hard or impossible for students to study some of the more unusual/customized majors. Then all the mechanical engineers would be only prepared for the same things. But this isn't hard to solve: don't make the course standards the same, but make syllabus/course introduction standards. This way, all the colleges could have totally different classes, but students can still tell what they need to know using the syllabuses and course introductions. Some of the things students need to know are:
Yes, I used my major set as part of an example. Short time frame, during class, it's what I had. I have no illusions that mine is the hardest one to work with, and I think that engineers would probably actually get split up further to account for this. Nanotechnology is an extant undergraduate major at a couple places. Studying things related to activism and marginalized groups is probably in way more danger from this sort of thing than my majors are.

Along those lines: no, I should not be the sole person in charge of these standards for syllabi, I'm white and I'm from the USA. I also don't think those standards should be mandatory, but I do think they should exist so that schools that decide they want to be a part of this sort of idea can be. And finally, I don't know how to go about actually creating such standards without being oppressive in some way, probably imperialist. I can point out the things that I think would be useful though, which I will now do.
1) What will you learn by taking this course? Knowing the content helps a student figure out if the course is useful to them or not.
2) What majors can this course be taken for credit in. For unique majors, this might not be useful, but for common majors that most students are in, this is good to know.
3) What knowledge is needed before starting the class? Stating this might have the biggest change: right now, a lot of colleges use their own course numbers for that. This won't work: colleges would need to say what knowledge students need. Students could choose other classes or do independent study to prepare, they just need to know the prerequisite information and they should be fine.
4) What's the learning method? This part includes how the testing is done, homework, meeting days and times, if it's online or not, and more.
For #2, I figure a list of what majors it's been counted towards before would work. There might need to be some sort of standard about schools being consistent about counting stuff towards the same majors, but I don't know how to work that one out.

For #4 and online classes, the question of "do I need to get to campus for the final" is important, because if not, you might be able to take this class while physically at a different place depending on college policies. (I think they should be cool with this, logistics is another story.)
Writing syllabi this way, students could look at multiple universities courses and figure out what course program suits them best. They could plan out where to study when and go to multiple different schools: letting students do this is why he was saying to globalize. Different colleges having different courses isn't an obstacle, but rather a reason that a student would want to study at different schools. In my humble opinion, the best method for colleges isn't to make course standards the same, but to have syllabi written with the same methods/information.
So "in my humble opinion" was a language bit we were supposed to make sure to use in class.
I don't think there should be a requirement to translate the syllabus on the school or anything- it should probably be written in whatever language the class is being conducted in, because if you can't understand it in that language, you'd probably have an issue taking a class conducted in that language. But there also shouldn't be a rule against providing translations of the syllabus/course introduction/course description either. Up to the teacher if they want to make those.

My feelings on globalization are also kind of mixed. I see how some pieces of it could be really cool- more people knowing more languages means more opportunities for communication (but it shouldn't need to be an "everyone learns the same one," just a "more languages is useful.") But the way it actually seems to be turning out looks more like "international corporations have huge amounts of power" combined with "the folks who were already powerful got more powerful." I'd like to see a version of globalization that worked as an equalizing force, though.

1 comment:

  1. Standardisation is practically impossible, anyway. Take a major like English Literature. Sounds pretty straightforward doesn't it?

    Yeah. To an English person.

    For me, studying English Literature meant we spent the better part of the first two years gaining enough proficiency in English to be able to study English literature at an academic level. And that's WITH English being a required foreign language in high school.

    You simply can't hold studying English Literature as a foreign language to the same syllabus standards as studying literature in your native language. The process is completely different, even though the subject is exactly the same.


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