"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman

:malicious user:

Sunday, March 07, 2004

sweet and sickening
first of all, yesterday was a fantastic day because dan's package came! the man's pastries are indescribably good, but the phrase "getawayfromthosethey'remine!" comes to mind.

and in other news...

this weekend i participated in the dumbing down of america. the first quiz of my drug development class was appropriately challenging. the second quiz evoked such an uprising of objections from the students that the instructor discounted it from the grading process. (in truth, although i did poorly, i didn't think it was unfairly difficult.) the third quiz was cancelled altogether. and this past wednesday we received the take-home midterm exam.

i was tempted to complete it in crayon. the professor himself assured us that he had had his wife - an elementary school teacher - review the exam, and she declared it "simple enough" to ensure the professor shouldn't get any death threats as a result.

the first 10 questions were multiple choice, taken directly from the class notes. the second half was a choice of two out of four essay questions, none of which were exceptionally challenging beyond requiring the ability to regurgitate class notes or magazine articles. only the last section required any real analysis. it was a "what's wrong with this picture" type question in which we were presented with an informed consent form that contained errors and omissions, which we had to identify and/or correct.

while i'm grateful for anything that isn't dishonest assisting me in maintaining the b average necessary to get my tuition reimbursed, i can't help feeling that the professor is caving in to the least common denominator. this is a graduate-level class, and even he expressed the opinion that there is a certain level of academic quality and rigor expected of himself and of us in return. i guess there is another lesson here, one that was the subject of one of the essay questions. sometimes, no matter the extent of the formal guidelines, laws, regulations, or rules laid out, written down, memorized, and repeated daily to ingrain principles into our heads and our lives, we capitulate.

we give in. we cave. we say, f*ck it. our morals and ethics take a back seat so we can be rid of the morons besieging us, or the obstacles in our way, or to circumvent delays and expenses.

if it's an individual choice that affects only that individual, that's one thing. but when it affects others who are relying on those responsible to hold up those principles, that's a different situation altogether. pressure causes us to surrender sometimes - it's almost inevitable. if you end up ashamed for yourself, or just feeling uneasy, you scold yourself in the mirror, and you move on. but when you let others down, others who had no say in the matter, that is reprehensible. that borders on unethical behavior.

my professor let me down, on a certain level, by failing to meet the quality standards that he told us he would maintain. the essay on the test (i'll print it here next week, after the tests are due), references accounts of today's clinical researchers who fail to maintain the ethical prinicples of medical behavior set forth by the nuremberg code, the declaration of helsinki, and the belmont report. the consequences of failing to maintain these standards are that sometimes people die.

and why do i rant about this now?

it's election year, people. what promises will be broken? and how will we react to those breaches of trust? and what will our reactions say about ourselves? and who in our lives will be watching how we react?
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i used to be disgusted. now i try to be amused.
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