Saturday 9 November 2019

Aims versus Objectives - or, how They mess with your mind

One aspect of the bureaucratic takeover of British universities I experienced, was the annual demand to revise the course descriptions; and to define both the Aims and Objectives.

The idea was that - suddenly - courses needed 'clear' Aims and Objectives if they were to be good; indeed, the assumption was that good courses derived-from Aims and Objectives...

700 years-worth of counter-examples made no impact on this assumption, precisely because it was an assumption. And the assumption behind this assumption was that universities must be remade as bureaucracies - to be monitored and controlled by managers.

Part of this was that academic courses must be first re-described in bureaucratic language, en route to being re-conceptualised as such - with the destination of becoming bureaucracies in actuality - in which academic subjects were constructed, from bottom-up under top-down supervision, as bureaucratic entities.

...So that they could be managed by managers; and management is generic - not specific. The assumption behind management is that there is such a thing as management and it is necessary.  

Anyway, one aspect of this process was that there were Aims and Objectives for each course (and each degree, and the rest), and Aims were distinct from from Objectives. As and Os were distinct in some way that was vital to the 'quality' of the Teaching and Learning (another of the new bureaucratic distinction) but in some way that somehow could neither be articulated nor understood...

There were actually short courses run by The Managers about the difference between Aims and Objectives, and how important was this difference, and how a clear understanding of this distinction  would lead to Better Teaching (Managers being, of course, the acknowledged experts on Better Teaching).

Yet the matter somehow remained confused... Honest and diligent academics never could distinguish Aims and Objectives in any coherent and principled way - it became merely a business of filling-in forms, of saying the same thing twice - first as Aims then as Objectives, with two different orderings of synonymous words.

Because, naturally, Os and As had no real world relevance to anything important. No course ever was better for having correctly articulated and complementary Aims and Objectives (unless it was appallingly bad to begin-with) - although plenty were damaged by the process of which As and Os were a part.

...Yet if it was not important, why the insistence upon Aims and Objectives - over many years and academic cycles? Why compel academics to go through this process, when there was no right answer, and no positive value?

The answer is a deep one - and it is an insight into the modus operandi of the demonic forces that themselves lie behind the rise of managerialism and the world-takeover by bureaucracy - which is intrinsically evil in its motivation.

(Bureaucracy is the means by which totalitarianism is implemented - and totalitarianism is the main and increasing form of organised, top-down evil in the past two centuries.)

The fundamental and ineradicable incoherence of Aims and Objectives, combined with the mandatory imposition of the distinction, were one part of a large scale assault on reality.

Evil is unreal. Good, by contrast, is real - although not the totality of reality. Evil is dishonesty (not truth), ugliness (not beauty), and sin (not virtue). And in its small way; Aims and Objectives are institutional lies that are part of the ugly activity of form-filling, and aiming at the evil assimilation into generic, unified bureaucracy of teaching (what used to go-on between specific academics and specific students).

In its small way, to compel academics to define and implement Aims and Objectives, was to make them collude in lies, to lie that there was importance and meaning in such distinctions; to encourage the denial of incoherence... To get people used-to stating solemn nonsense, then doubling-down on the lie that it was meaning-ful and vitally important.

As and Os were a microcosm of the submission of individuals to The System - and an invitation to the academic to deny personal responsibility, and to subordinate himself to The System. It was to induce an assertion that System was primary; and (most important) that System was generic - such that the System for my university course was part of the System for the degree, for the universities, for all the other management Systems of the university; and these Systems themselves brought into one System that was linked to other university Systems, and those of politics, law, finance etc - and these National systems to the European Union, and the United Nations...

Aims and Objectives were a first step, therefore, in integrating my teaching into a single and all-pervasive and micro-divided System of World Government.

And this single-unified-universal bureaucracy is the primary and most effective manifestation of purposive supernatural evil in the world today; the mechanism for implementation of the (demonically driven) agenda for subversion, destruction and inversion of values.

When I first encountered the Aims and Objectives distinction, I certainly could not then have articulated the above interpretation. But my spontaneous intuition did tell me that this was not right, - ought not to be done, should be resisted.

Of course; such is the near total corruption of British people, and especially British academics; such is the habitual cowardice and dishonesty; that almost everybody concerned either grudgingly or (more often) eagerly embraced their own assimilation and subordination.

Note: After simply not filling-in forms for a while; my usual method of push-back (which amused me) was to write a single sentence with the exact same words describing Aims and Objectives. If the Committee requested that I make a distinction I would decline to do so, and invited the Committee to write-in whatever They thought was suitable. I felt this expressed my contempt for the whole business! It is sad to realise that if such non-cooperation has been widespread, in this and all other respects, these Systems could not have been implemented. But that would have required a population capable of intuition, learning and coherent thought - and who had transcendental motivations for their work. But none of this has been the case for many decades, due to the mass apostasy and the triumph of Leftist materialism. And if or until there is a Christian awakening, there is no hope that the universal takeover by Systematic Evil via bureaucracy will even be resisted, let alone reversed. 

Note about the above Note: I realise that the above seems pretty smug and self-satisfied... But I firmly believe I was right, and that my sustained solo campaign of non-cooperation and push-back against bureaucracy in the workplace was A Good Thing; and the rarity of such behaviour is an indictment of modernity. My motivations, for most of the time, were not Christian - but were idealistic with respect to proper academic and scientific ethics: these were my highest values and ideals, at that  time (truth-seeking, truth-telling, an aesthetic of work, that I should strive to do the best work of which I was capable etc); and I knew that these ought not to be sacrificed for inferior or actively-evil goals. Indeed, it was my search to find coherent and objective justification for these ideals that ultimately led me (as the pressure of bureaucracy on my values ideals increased, year on year; and I needed to articulate them explicitly) first to theism, then to Christianity.   


dearieme said...

I once started a course by declaring that many students might want courses that were (i) interesting, (ii) valuable, and (iii) easy. And while no worthwhile degree could consist only of such courses there should certainly be room for one or two.

So, said I, I am going to persuade you this topic is much simpler than you would ever imagine if you learnt the material from the textbooks. By the time we have finished you will be able to riffle through those texts, saying to yourself "oh no, I know a much terser, more illuminating way of looking at that; and that; and that".

I suppose that my Aims were to fulfil my Objectives, and my objectives were that the class could pass (a) the Riffling Test, and (b) the exams.

When I was an undergraduate I also developed views on how not to teach various things: for example some of the teaching of Probability I had in lectures and books was confused and inadequate. (By golly it was a relief when the penny dropped that they were being silly, not me.) Decades later I taught Natural Sciences Maths for some of the Cambridge colleges and took it into my head to attend the lectures (so that I could learn the notations used, and see what were held to be natural starting places for deductions). That year the probability was taught by A W F Edwards. I mention him because his lectures were a model of clarity and interest: I bet few of the students knew just how lucky they were.

I may say that the gulf between the standard of his teaching and that of the job lot of mathematical physicists who taught the rest of the course was broad and deep. One Saturday morning lecture was so bad that I went off to my office in the huff, wrote out the lecture that the plonker should have delivered, and cycled round to his college to put it in his pigeon hole. He started his next lecture, on Tuesday morning, by saying that he had had second thoughts on Saturday's lecture and would now present a better version. And did he send me a bottle of Port? Did he buggery.

Joseph A. said...

I suspect that there is truth in the overall corrupting effect of such box-checking, but how else should a reform of education proceed? Let's say that you're in charge of a school that has lost its path. Your faculty consists of intellectuals no longer confident in their own knowledge, in their tradition, their civilization, or truth as such. Changing that climate of relativism, providing exemplar leadership and confidence, emphasizing the good and noble aspects of the theoretical life oriented toward truth -- of course, these ideas would be positive. Yet, getting your people to think about what exactly they're trying to do in their educational regimen seems like a sensible step, as well. It carries the danger of reducing the pursuit of knowledge to only utilitarian aims, but it need not. One could simply note that a particular course's aim was to increase the student's appreciation for the high English poetry of the early 19th century by doing A, B, and C, where the aim is the telos of the course and the objectives are the milestones by which you plan to achieve that telos. That just seems orderly. Of course, I'm unaware of how such measures were implemented in the U.K., and anything that happens in the modern world is vulnerable to all kinds of wickedness.

Joseph A. said...

As a follow-up, maybe the inability for educational bureaucrats to distinguish between aims and objectives (even though such a distinction as I made above seems proper and practical) has nothing to do with any insidious plan but everything to do with schools' becoming stocked with foolish, mindless box-checkers in the administration. They receive orders, ideas which may have been hatched sincerely, but they're completely unable to discern those ideas. They're the idiot army of bureaucracy. Now, that's a useful tool for devils!

Bruce Charlton said...

@Joseph - Well, that is what the managers tell themselves every time they take over a functional institution and converge it with the totalitarian world government.

The thing is, even if we could not perceive the falsity of the argument thirty years ago, by now, with so much experience of what happens, surely we ought to be able to notice that it is false?

Joseph A. said...

I don't know. It's mighty difficult to do forensic work on a cat that has been hit by car, eaten by vultures, suffered decay, rotted to the bone, and then whose remains were smashed by a sadistic boy with a hammer. I exaggerate, of course. Our societies have only gone through half as much trauma in the last few centuries.

Seriously, though, I don't know. You may be right. I thought about your post later today and came to agree with you that this step (the aims and objectives process) certainly indicates that there is something really wrong. A healthy university would know as a matter of course (ha!) what its aims were without ever having to articulate them in bureaucratic procedures. I'm sure that you have no patience with the omnipresent "mission statements" everywhere -- for schools, businesses, hospitals, "churches" . . . they're ridiculous. Yet and still, I don't know that the step itself is bad. I may have corresponded with you before about the need for philosophy and theology in religious matters once a healthy, integrated worldview breaks down -- or is attacked. Socrates only became necessary after the sophists. The Cappadocians only became necessary after Arius (from an Orthodox perspective). Rational reflection is dangerous, of course -- given our limits and the powers of the enemy -- but it becomes necessary when things fall apart. I moreover think that successful synthesis and wisdom are better than the unreflective state, if we do obtain them. They're meat rather than milk. Anyway, I mention such because the plan to reconsider a school's mission -- and to carefully consider all the previously natural elements and life of the school -- may become necessary when the school as an institution becomes sick. And our schools are feverish. I do wholeheartedly agree with you that the physicians tending them only exacerbate the disease.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JA - It's too late now. The prcess has been escalating for two generations, so the work has been done - the line was crossed some while ago, and the educational institutions are destroyed. We are just watching them die. The big question for those (few) who do not (actively or passively) support the demonic leftist totalitarian agenda, is whether to try and make new institutions to replace the corrupt ones, or to seek non-institutional paths.