Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The difference between America and the UK in 6 sentences

Gurufrisbee may not be working today and, therefore, has no internet connection. I'm going to fill his usual Wednesday spot. I hope you don't mind. Something happened today that I think is worth blogging about. After much pestering, a friend of mine, let's call her ConflictedFundraiser, allowed me to post this e-mail on Page 132. It is from a professor at a university here in London.

I think it perfectly captures a fundamental difference between America and the U.K. In America your results/actions determine your future. One can always improve. In the U.K, and especially in education, it is about WHO you are and not WHAT you do. I encountered a similar attitude in my M.A. studies, but nothing so blantant or concise.

One important thing you need to know about ConflictedFundraiser. She is very intelligent and was encouraged by other professors and PhD students to pursue her PhD. Additionally, she obtained her MSc through the same university.

Dear [ConflictedFundraiser],

I wanted to read your dissertation to assess your potential to do original research. Unfortunately, I am afraid that it don't think what you have produced suggests to me that you have the potential to do a PhD. Your grades may meet departmental regulations but the thesis is the true test. For this reason I am unwilling to entertain any further PHd proposal from you... On the basis of what I have read I would not encourage you to [enter the academic field]. I am sorry of this news is a shock to you but it is better to hear it now rather than a year or two down the line.


[Name withheld by request of ConflictedFundraiser]

I understand centers for higher learning have to draw a line about who is acceptable and who isn't. Yet the criteria used is not about actions, but simply ConflictedFundraiser's potential.

As a friend, I offered ConflictedFundraiser a few choice words, usually reserved only for Karl Rove. As an educator, I'm appalled by this educator's disinterest in helping a student improve and learn. As somone who cares about justice, to see this sort of discrimination gets me red hot.

No wonder America eclipsed the U.K. during the 20th century. Americans encourage dreaming; Brits only want the right people to chase their dreams.