how Australian uni(versity) teaches obedience (orientation part 1)

24 02 2009

Welcome to La Trobe University! To best prepare students for learning successfully, all one must do is follow the schedule! By the end of International Welcome Festival and first year ressies (on-campus residents’) O-Week (orientation week), one will be ready to go to class, and hopefully even pass! Events include:

  • Several bbq’s, food provided by Uni catering; burgers, chicken, veggie burgers, salads, cole slaw, fruit, tea, coffee, crackers, orange juice.
  • Sit down and listen to the services the Uni provides: chaplancy (free food and an open ear), counseling services (put your crazyness into some one else’s lap, for free!), clubs (cost $), library (free books, printing and photocopying costs $), academic support services (students and academic aids to help you “succeed”), on campus nurses and a doctor, job enrollment, and the blessed international office, helping foreigners get oriented.
  • Swimming Pool Olympics – pool games, inflatable in-water obstacle course, plenty of chocolate, followed by a bbq.
  • Sit down and listen to what you’re not allowed to do while living on campus.
  • Have an on-campus Wild West themed party, where everyone must dress up as a cowboy; some people dress as indians… I believe them to be on the wrong continent. Play black jack, texas hold-em, and Guitar Hero (?); watch your peers in a sack race.
  • Sit down and listen to an “American professor” who is conducting a research project on several campuses worldwide asking students to drink certain amounts of alcohol daily to find correlation between alcohol and school performence. The study is entitled Blood Alcohol Level Learning Study, or, for short, BALLS, which, as he explained, is exactly what that study is: a load of BALLS; at which time, the “American professor” ripped off his suit and moustache and wig, said “g’day mates”, the lights went off, and he juggled glow in the dark balls. Then he told us what to do about depression in case of the new surroundings overwhelming us.
  • Enroll for classes (for me, that’s Ways of Knowing Nature, Outdoor Living and Travel Skills, Bushwalking Environments, and Field Experience A).
  • Sit down and learn about the clubs you can join.
  • Get bussed to the Bendigo Town Hall and listen to the mayor, a professor, and the dean (or the school owner, or head honcho, or whatever) describe how students with a degree are more likely to be productive, be richer, have lower rates of crime, and live 7.8 years longer than people without degree (P.S., every speaker began their short speeches recognizing the DjaDjaWrung Aboriginees as original owners of the land that’s now Bendigo; they recognize their culture and heritage… then they tell us they hope we stay in Bendigo studying for a full degree, and maybe even to live in Bendigo after that, to help the community…). An aborigine says welcome, and another plays a brief didjeridoo piece. Then, go outside and listen to the Bendigo 4-piece hard rock band, Sender, and enjoy paellas (rice and cheese and meat and mushrooms and spinache). Feel free to dance, but most students won’t; and if you do, one or two other students, one of whom may be drunk, might join you. šŸ™‚
  • Either go to the on-campus 2-drink-provided 70’s themed dance party, or get bussed to Bendigo Cinemas and see Slumdog Millionaire for free.

Here at La Trobe University, Bendigo Campus, about 5% of first year students live on campus; I’ve gotten to know some of them. O-Week has accomodated about 400 students. They’ve done a great job of putting us in rooms and sitting us down and getting us used to people speaking to us, mixed with supervised fun-time, to make sure we have that sense of freedom that everyone believes we have in college (uni).

but enough of the mandatory; here’s an optional philosophical opinion (an amazing piece, well worth the read [link provided below]):

“School is where you let the dying society put its trip on you. Our schools may seem useful: to make children into doctors, sociologists, engineers–to discover things. But they’re poisonous as well. They exploit and enslave students; they petrify society; they make democracy unlikely. And it’s not what you’re taught that does the harm but how you’re taught. Our schools teach you by pushing you around, by stealing your will and your sense of power, by making timid square apathetic slaves out of you–authority addicts.” – The Student As Nigger, by Jerry Farber




3 responses

24 02 2009

Some thoughts from an old-timer (college grad, class of ’74): Organized education, like most institutions, certainly has room for improvement. How do we achieve balance among student-centered instruction/self-exploration; the social/societal goals of preparing the citizens, workers and leaders of tomorrow; and the school’s need to structure activities and environments to serve multiple constituents (students, faculty, administration)? The LaTrobe orientation, which might have felt like you were being herded around, seems like a nice try to combine information and fun, and campus and community. As for the Farber piece, remember that it was written in the 1960s, before free speech and free thought came to campus. It was a really different world back then, and things are way more open for students today (but still not perfect for everyone). I would suggest that the answer for explorers like our blog host lies not in rejecting the university’s efforts, but in exploiting the resources and talents that are available on campus, to further one’s own goals and aspirations. We (your elders) hope those student aspirations benefit all of us, to improve the community and the world. We need you too much to be torturing you in college. Academia is not an arm of a societal conspiracy to turn college students into zombies. Plus, the food is so much better than it used to be. Peace, love, and patience.

24 02 2009
Domino Fellin Aperfectlin


Each pointed to the center of our century, gal!

Scribbled-Notions to all who join Abbreviation Addiction

“Sorry, NOBLE peace price winner in economics Dr. Ms. Sir. Rev. Sipps Mi Slyder PHD. MdMa. CEO. VIP, but can you show me how you built your house, grew all this food, and made all that fancy clothes?”
*heart skips* *throat snaps* *stomach empties* *everything vanishes*
“O no fright! Your refrigerator, your medicine drawer, your engine, your closet, is just beyond that wall, and over in there beyond that wall, and finally past that wall, O and probably a few thousand other gates and check points along the way. It will be a far journey but the key to pass through the walls is in your skin for now..
Sippy you will have to drop it all, have to admit defeat. I will see you there”

Squared-Stations to all who join the Empty Plate Waiters Gate

You are always in it, skwee šŸ˜‰

25 02 2009

the truth is.

Inside every sickly hospital bed is small space for comfort and learning.

In every prestigious Uni(versity) there is space for comfort and learning. Important as these pieces of grace within a system based on waste are, they still must be consumed with true intention. Inside we are taught the art of asking questions and “knowing when to stop.” So obvious this becomes when you ask the (OP)PRofESSOR why? But why? ~SILENCE~
The equations is always balancing- as much as there is to gain there is to loose.
Positively fantasizing, while romantically criticizing, seems the perfect tools to wade gently into overwhelming differences.
no enemy besides fright that your right and knowing we are wrong

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