C. S. Lewis said that women are fidgets and men are lazy.
I find that there is a fair bit of truth in this, though both can be either. (I'm frightfully lazy myself, and a fidget, which explains why I blog.)
But it occurred to me that Lewis's evaluation of male and female traits might have some relevance to a recent fad from which some of you may have suffered--the assessment craze.
Now raise your hands, all of you who have been forced to fill out stupid forms and write up foolish reports explaining how your academic department is spending lots of time "assessing" itself. The illusion, of course, is that if departments assess themselves, this will mean that they are improving, which as anyone who knows anything about academe knows, is balderdash. The real changes that everyone may know need to be made are not the sorts of things that are at all likely to come out in an "assessment," which is basically a certain number of pounds of paper presented to administrators, or to the assistants of administrators, to make it look like everyone is learning something and doing something.
I understand that these things are now being demanded by accrediting agencies and that universities are devoting whole positions to "the Intermediate Unnecessary Vice Something-or-other for Assessment," and long-suffering chairmen are having to put together a committee among their faculty and write up the reports, which are then passed up the chain, and which help no one to do anything useful whatsoever. And administrators are telling chairmen, and chairmen telling faculty, that the yet higher administrators (who have to worry about the accrediting agencies) want there to be a "culture of assessment" throughout the institution. A culture of learning? Nah. A culture of assessment. What an odious phrase.
Does it seem too much to guess that this idea has in some sense a feminine origin? It's not that I'm definitely saying that a woman thought of it--though maybe one did--nor even that I'm putting a lot of weight on the involvement of women in enforcing the fad--though statistics on that point would be interesting. It's just that, speaking as a woman, that desire to make sure people look like they are doing something, even if they really aren't, has an all-too-familiar ring. If it wasn't a woman who kicked all of this off, it was someone with a feminine mind.
All of which reminds me of this fun video. Enjoy.