It couldn’t be more obvious through all of this that there would have been no recourse at all to the average student. The instructors could have silenced their attempts to comment in class so that they fell in lock step with “supportive = no opportunity for growth at all” mentality that the UBC program stank with within the first few weeks of class.
I, however, foolishly thought that by “be less craft focused” my instructors actually meant there was a level of craft that could work with their program’s methodology. So naturally, I thought it must work. I thought eventually, I’d find the level that could be discussed without it leading to another “dear barb” letter, which wanted to take even more of my academic freedom to freely comment in class away.
It took three years for it to occur to me that less had meant none all along. Three years of trying to make a program work that had no chance at all of working because it was never designed to work.
But as long as there was *some* level of craft that could be discussed, I thought it could work, too.
But after three years and getting thrown out of class for asking a question any writing program should have had the fortitude to ask if the author’s intention was to share the work, even if it touched on a sensitive subject that was not roped off from the beginning.
By the time I realized “less craft focused” meant no craft focus at all as a deliberate pedagogic choice, I had already finished my thesis for a degree that willingly, if secretively, taught that craft-based discussions aren’t even needed for literary excellence. Literary excellence is agreed on from the start and the only thing left to do is talk about the writing at the prose level.
And for 2-4 of the submissions per class, they’d be right. For everyone else, they learn that no structural edit is needed even in work that just describes scenery and conversations the characters have while they explain to the reader what they knew at the start of the story.
I was lied to. The UBC continues to lie to their future students, even as we speak. They’ll advertise they have craft-based discussions (“for literary excellence” according to their website well after all this had happened) and then stamp out any actual discussion of craft (destroying academic freedom) so the only craft-based discussion allowed is on how craft-based changes aren’t ever needed.
“I liked it” is supposed to end discussion revision might be necessary.
“I liked it too, but I still think the conflict should be at least hinted at in the beginning of a work” is “defending my opinion too much.” (aka: We keep telling you to BE LESS CRAFT FOCUSED. Why can’t you understand that means none.)
If the learner thinks that the construction of a complete thought happens in the first draft, a place of learning is exactly where they ought to be. But if the instructor agrees that peer review is just for polishing the prose, that’s exactly what they’re going to learn.
And learn they did. Because who wants to be told that writing the first draft is the easiest part of the process? That imagining what could happen is a lot more difficult than thinking of a million ways to make what did happen matter more to the character, the plot and the reader. Polish can be done in a single pass.
The rewriting stages drag on until some writers are sick of ever thinking of their characters again, only to sell their work and feel like they’d just submitted a rough draft for all the editorial changes they still need to make — and would have made, had they seen it.
At a Masters level degree, the education provided should be at the forefront of academics and its profession. I can’t think of a working pedagogy that says just draw your student body from a population that can afford to enroll in a degree that has no tangible financial reward at a time where they can invest tens of thousands of dollars into their future career goals.
Most working pedagogies I know have a final step that says “check to see if the way the learner learned what they needed to learn to learn was done the most effective way possible.” They don’t require the average learner to treat hot copy like it’s near-perfect copy, whether it’s near-perfect copy or not.
Learners are harmed. Pedagogic institutions would rather destroy academic freedom than have to listen to how it harms learners. Institutions would turn their back on their policies if it means not having to hear complaints about academic freedom being violated.
The lawyer who advised the officer on how to “get away” with two of the three definitions of improper conduct as defined by the institution’s own policies somehow hasn’t broken any part of chapter three, section two of his professional conduct that says not only to not help officers abuse their authority, but report that the attempted ask.
An MLA and a Minister doesn’t think she has to apologize for lying to a member of the public to their face and hold up the progress for almost a month. And her secretary’s empathy fooled me for about three seconds until I realized there was no way she could possibly actually feel it.
And I was right to call her a liar. But I didn’t. When the minister came out of her office and asked her secretary if I was being disrespectful, the tone the secretary said “No!” which certainly implied she wished I had been.
Officers in BC institutions think policies are optional. Even the Law Society thinks breaking sections of their code doesn’t happen unless a lawyer says it did. Officers are allowed to let themselves not be at fault.
The double standard is disgusting.