Canada *does* have standards for master’s degrees!

Who knew? Not the BC government, that’s for sure. They had zero problems with the UBC mandate of swapping out their mission statement with an unproven and unprovable method. But look:

Program Design and Outcome Emphasis A master’s degree program builds on knowledge and
competencies acquired during related undergraduate study and requires more specialized knowledge and intellectual autonomy than a bachelor’s-degree program. Much of the study undertaken at the master’s level will have been at, or informed by, the forefront of an academic or professional discipline. Students will have shown some originality in the application of knowledge, and they will understand how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through research. They will be able to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, and they will show independent capacity in addressing issues and problems.

What issues and problems, UBC? Every story to every other student was practically perfect. The solution I was taught was list the classic that artistically replaced the structure the student had just avoided using and argue if X doesn’t use character development, neither did the author in question. When I was told “peer review” was their pedagogy, most of this untested “teaching by motivational poster” technique came from the instructors. And that’s the tip of that particular iceberg.

But it gets better. Under:

Preparation for Employment and Further Study: Graduates will have the qualities needed for either further study in the discipline or for employment in circumstances requiring sound judgment, personal responsibility and initiative, in complex and unpredictable professional environments.

I was specifically told by an instructor that because not all students were wanting to be published, they were teaching to that demographic.

The best example for what I experienced in my program was a bunch of teachers who were unnaturally talented at classroom management skills. So they built a Masters of Education program that taught teaching was classroom management skills. Most of their students weren’t professional teachers yet but also had pretty good to almost professional levels of talent and skill when it came to classroom management skills. This program taught them the only part of teaching that matters is excellent classroom management skills, and they all agreed with themselves.

If you sub “classroom management skills” with “nice prose” you have my MFA experience. Only every time I tried to mention any part of teaching that wasn’t classroom management skills, from the pedagogy to other skills still needed in the classroom beyond classroom management, I was told I was wrong.

And when I tried to tell the Provost his program was deeply broken, he told me that the word “must” on policies is really up for interpretation. And then went with the ultimate you know you’ve lost the argument but never admit you’re wrong technique, claiming ignoring personal harassment as they got to define it wasn’t technically illegal.

UBC policy is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.
– Andrew Szeri, UBC Provost

only slightly paraphrased.

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