FIRST SKETCH: THE WORD is THE POINT (cont.)
Realist asks, “When is a graduation not a graduation?” and states the following: “Apparently CCC held another graduation ceremony this week. An event that perhaps resembles the graduation took place at MX in May. IMHO, only in name.” The reader’s attention is then drawn to this list of words: “graduation,” “courses,” “approving,” “accreditation,” “classrooms,” “curriculum,” “graduates,” “students,” and “program.” Later, critical of 10KSB, Realist asks, “Does this sound like an academic program? Sure, when you use academically sounding words as a disguise. Is it an academically sound program? I don’t think so.” Precisely why the program might be academically unsound is never fully articulated, although Realist guesses that the program may not offer degrees or transfer credit (a separate issue). Realist’s point is that when 10KSB uses such words – as opposed to when “real” educators teaching academically sound programs use them – the meaning of those words changes. It’s just bad when 10KSB uses them.
Is Realist making a charge of propaganda? Propaganda is a systematic, persistent issuing of information that may be inaccurate and that furthers one’s own goals and ideas while damaging an opponent’s goals and ideas. But Realist does not use the word “propaganda.” Is Realist making a charge of unethical or illegal activity? These are much more serious charges, proof of which requires that a rather high standard of evidence be met. (Of course, even when a standard of evidence is not met or a charge is dismissed due to some technicality, it does not prove that nothing happened.) But Realist does not use the words “unethical” or “illegal.”
(Note: Before continuing further readers may wish to click on this link http://www.pierpont.edu/schoolofacademicstudies/academics/board-governors-associate-applied-science or type “Board of Governors Degree,” “CLEP Test,” or “life experience portfolio” into their search engines. Whether or not 10KSB currently integrates itself with any of these alternative approaches to assisting adult learners complete college degrees is not indicated in Realist’s post, but it is clear that condemning 10KSB as “academically unsound” out of hand reflects some rush to judgment. The link is provided for the sake of introducing a wider context and some general background knowledge concerning educational programs tailored toward adult learners.)
At other times when Realist uses certain words, the words are good just because Realist is the one using them. Realist writes, “I see myself as an entrepreneur and capitalist. . . . Bottom line: Let these [10KSB participants] be real students. Let our institution educate our community. Truly educate in the academic and scholarly definition of the word.” Notice that when Realist claims to be an entrepreneur and capitalist (and does not feel the need to prove it) quotation marks are not placed around the words, nor are they modified by the adjectives “real” or “true.” That is because Realist desires the emotion-rich associations that the words connote, not their flat definitions. (Imagine that Realist had claimed to be a communist. Some readers might suddenly find themselves identifying with 10KSB!)
Bad. Good. Devil words. God words. Them. Us.
Wrapped in the all the red-white-and-blue associations words can muster, claiming to be both capitalist and educator, Realist writes of those who participated in 10KSB: “These ‘students’ are only a means to a profitable end for one company. These 37 ‘graduates’ are objects with which to barter for future gains. Call them corn, or cattle, but not students.” Here the rhetorical device “distinctio” (which is an explicit reference to a particular meaning of a word) slips into extreme “hyperbole” (which is a deliberate exaggeration, often a comparison between two dissimilar things, made for emphasis), resulting in the total dehumanization of the participants. 10KSB itself never goes to this extreme in its published material. Not even close. So what criteria – either subjective or objective – does Realist apply to reach this dramatic distinction? What insight does Realist possess that explains why these particular participants/employers/small business owners/students are so commodified while employees/entrepreneurs/capitalists/”educators” like Realist are not commodified?
“I do know how to take off my proverbial capitalist hat when I walk into HWC. I come into our building to educate students, not to market a name or use this building as an extension of my commercial practice,” writes Realist.
(To be continued. . . .)