10.6.05

DEVELOPING CULTURAL COMPETENCE. Train-trip days are also days with the early news reports, including a sound bite of Chicago's Mayor Daley the younger playing the "competitiveness" card to encourage the Chicago schools to strengthen the math skills of their charges, lest all the technical jobs go to India and to China. (Sorry, I was not able to turn up a quote on a cursory inspection of the usual sources; the research department will get to working on it anon.) I do want to make some more observations about that cultural competence and related topics as well, but the following occurred to me on-train.

Isn't one purpose of education to develop some cultural competence among students? Mightn't part of that competence be working well with others? OK, let's see where that goes.

1. The working day begins at 8 am. Not 8.03. Not 8.15. Not "whatever." So what excuse does the faculty have for not reprimanding those individuals who cannot bestir themselves to arrive at a 10 am class in time for a 10 am start? (Yes, perhaps a standard of "whenever" might emerge at some time in the future. But it's not the current standard.)

2. Clients expect to receive their reports or their locomotives on a date certain. (See, I can use that therapeutic language, too.) So why be forgiving of "I forgot to bring it" or "my hard drive crashed" or "I left it in the car." Clients don't necessarily pitch a hissy fit when it's late, but they sometimes don't come back. I think that translates as "you're fired."

3. Dressing for success matters. So why go into class (whether as student or professor) looking like you just rolled out of bed and grabbed whatever was near to hand?

These diversity and cultural competence plans often deploy the phrase "social justice." That's a rather challenging concept, as I intend to argue shortly. But first, a question: what justice is there in failing to develop the basic skills to conduct one's affairs competently.

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