Monday, August 24, 2009

Back-to-school Special on Master's Degrees מבצע בתארי ב'

Research question: Can kibbutz [principles] be applied in the developing world?

The researcher: She arrived unannounced on a Saturday and figured she could finish interviewing (five members of my income-sharing community) by sundown, with no prior notice.

She couldn’t string together three words.

She took handwritten notes in a cutesy hardback Blank Book adorned with dolphins: no laptop, no recording device.

She was unable to answer my question about the use of the word pseudonym that appeared on the waiver she gave me to sign after she’d finished “interviewing” me, saying, “I think it's like ‘he’ or ‘she’”. "No," I explained. "‘He’ and ‘she’ are pronouns."

She didn’t connect the dots: After I told her that my reaction to an article I’d read in the mid-1980s about Tlalim was that it wouldn’t last, much later she asked me, “Are there any kibbutzes that didn’t last”? Honey, I just handed this one to you on a silver platter ten minutes ago. Go Google it (duh) and find out!

When she asked me if I "had any ties to the other kibbutzes" in the area, I replied, not particularly, but suggested she look them up, as each surely has a site. Her response: "Oh, yeah. Good idea".

She completely missed key thoughts. She asked, “What about adaptability? You guys seem adaptable”. I replied, “What one person thinks of as adapting, another might call selling out”. If not a gem, a tidbit, no? Went straight over her head. I suspect she didn’t know what “selling out” means.

She told me twice that her grandparents live in Missouri. Both times, she couldn’t recall where. Granted, perhaps she’d only visited once, when she was six, but I had the feeling she’d’ve had the same trouble with St. Louis. Hell, I had the feeling she couldn’t pick out Missouri on a map. “Big deal,” you say. “So couldn’t most Americans”. Yes. But this one is in a Master’s degree program. She seemed like she could barely handle community college. A neighbor said to me, “Yes, but look at where the program is [a not-particularly-prominent state university]”. I contend: It doesn’t matter. The granting of a degree, assuming the granting institution is accredited to do so, is supposed to mean mastery (hence “Master’s”). This gal clearly has mastered nothing beyond her PIN number and the On/Off switch on a TV remote.

Hello? McFly? Is there an advisor in the picture? If so, is s/he permanently out to lunch? The fact that this gal even got this far (?) is a condemnation of the institution she’s enrolled in, if not academia in general. If these are today’s master’s candidates, how am I to trust any research results I read two years hence?

And let’s not even go to how she chose [State U.]: “Well, I was driving through there, and I just thought it was so pretty…”


  1. . . . depressing and scary

  2. "I have wondered the same as I was teaching in a graduate school . . .thanks!"