Signorina in Sheffield #6 – Of studying at University level

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So here I am again, the Italian gal in the land of Shakespeare.

I apologize for my prolonged absence, but I have been…well, studying for the exams.

And I went back to Italy for vacation. Twice. But mostly, I have been studying… Promise.

About that, I could not help but being very surprised by the cover article in the February 18 issue of Forge, “Lecturer ridicules students’ mistakes”.

While correcting the exams scripts, a Management School lecturer from Sheffield University wrote to his colleagues an email in which he pointed out two incredible mistakes made by students in their exams.

For accuracy’s sake, here is the transcript as it appears in the article:

Dear All,
Having spent the last couple of days dismally working my way through the first bunch of truly uninspiring undergraduate exam scripts, I thought I’d just share with you some little known facts about Milton Friedman that two of our final year undergrads have provided which you may (or may not!) wish to include in your future lectures:
1) Milton Friedman was the founder of capitalism
2) Milton Friedman was a socialist
I am feeling truly depressed!!
Only another 200 to go!!
Jon

The article goes on blaming the lecturer’s for his students’ ignorance and accusing him of having ridiculed the students.

Now, firstly I want to make clear that when I chose to come and study in England it’s because I admire the Anglo-Saxon’s studying system.

In Italy we are better theorists but we cannot apply a single notion, even if our life was at the stake (which sometimes is).

It is all so based on tradition that my IT compulsory exam was comprised putting frames on a word document (I got and A+, how smart am I?) and in my class there were still people who would hand-write their assignment.

If a book doesn’t come with three inches of dust it’s considered academically worthless and a young professor is usually around 55 years old. In short, I like the organization here.

This said, I think I should write three things about this desperate lecturer’s letter that were not mentioned in the article.

1) This was an exam from a University Management Business School. Please Note: University.

2) The students who wrote that Milton Friedman was, respectively, “the founder of capitalism” and a “socialist” are in their final year. This means that at the end of the year they might graduate in economics.

3) Milton Friedman was one of the most important economists of the 20th century. And capitalism is an economic and social system that evolved over the centuries. As all historical processes, it is self-evident that it cannot be founded by a single person. Writing that Milton Friedman was the “founder of capitalism” does not show a lack of teacher training: it shows a complete absence of thinking from whoever wrote that.

This person should be named and ridiculed in front of every fellow student of his class, because this is what will happen as soon as he lands any economics-related job.

University students are adults that get trained to a high professional level, not clients of a beauty farms.

We are not here to relax and enjoy our time; we are here to be trained in the best possible way.

The success or failure of our preparation relies entirely on our commitment, not on the fact we are treated nicely. We cannot blame the professor for our ignorance, we can only blame ourselves.

And the lecturer, by the means of harmless irony, was actually pointing out a grave lack of preparation to his colleagues, showing concern and interest in his job.

The only disrespectful behaviour was of the students who dared to go and take an exam with such little preparation.

By Marta Musso

Click on the picture to read the article on http://www.forgetoday.com

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