EDEV_506 Week 9_4

Thanks for the detailed explanation of the term college in the Canadian HE system. As you note, there are many nuances in meaning, which are in turn, results of differences in how the various organisations are established, their systems and their governance. Whereas I don’t really need to become an expert in the Canadian HE system, the so-called common vocabulary we share points to divergent meanings instead.

This point is important. When we read about change management in this country or that one, in this institution or that one—while using the same terminology—we assume that our interpretation is the intended one. This assumption can make accurate assessments difficult. When there is clearly a meaning mismatch, readers can see the problem easily. The word ‘faculty’ can refer to a collection, an organised body of single-discipline professors, or it can mean any member of the teaching staff. When the use is non-problematic, no one will notice. But when the word is used in the context of organising political will, as in educational change discussions, there can be a real disjoint in communication at the systems level. For example, if there is a need to convince ‘faculty’ of a particular plan of action, does this mean the need to approach a single organised body (in Japan, the kyojukai/ Professors’ Assembly) or the need to create avenues for discussion with an inter-disciplinary, diverse group of professors? In my interpretation of many readings, US writers often seem to intend the latter meaning. It will be readily apparent that the techniques of approaching the Professors’ Assembly will be markedly different from generating agreement among staff in the second interpretation.

As I said, very often no dislocation of meaning is noticed because the topic does not require any meaningful separation. In change management, however, it does. It does because the very mechanisms in operation are the ones that are in question. If readers do not mentally clarify the scope of the terms involved, they may inadvertently arrive at very divergent conclusions. Or worse still, they may not even be aware that they are talking at cross-purposes.


About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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