Wink-Wink Mates: Speaking the Unspeakable in the Scuttlebutt
Just in time for an April Fool’s joke, I’ve been elected as VP Academic for AUGSA, a graduate students’ union. I wanted to be elected to student government so as to influence development in the scuttlebutt.
Somehow departments of graduate education fail to convey information to their inmates about how good is good enough; the quality and standards expected from student work. Grades are no indicator. So how do students learn these standards? In part, from each other, in the student sub-culture, aka the scuttlebutt.
A scuttlebutt held the drinking water aboard ships of yore. While gathered ’round the scuttlebutt, mariners talked, communicated even. Scuttlebutt became a conduit in which to decipher, discern and deliver the wishes of the master. Scuttlebutt exists in the sub-culture of the underling and the wanna-be, aka doctoral student too, and delivers invaluable knowledge.
Sailors and doctoral students learn to perform to the unspeakable nuances of their job through scuttlebutt. I wonder what would happen if doctoral supervisors became more transparent about how good is good enough. Would dissertations get shorter?
Ironically, doctoral education which notoriously demands the ‘piling higher and deeper’ of excessive elaboration, may do so because the standards and quality of doctoral work elude pat definition, maybe are unspeakable. It’s like the supreme court definition of pornography, can’t define it, save you recognize it when you see it
Little bits of recognizable stuff comes to students in part from the scuttlebutt. In my position as VP Academic, I can push back for more transparency and develop a more reliable scuttlebutt. A Fool’s Game? Happy April’s Fools Day .