Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Candor Day

I have my share of weird and sick fantasies, most of which I won't blog about. But there's one that I think could actually be socially constructive, as well as psychologically healthy: Candor Day.

Candor Day would be one day each year when truly free speech would reign; it would be an 'off the record' day during which raw truth could be told. Speech on Candor Day would be given a free pass legally, like Congressional immunity. It would be the day on which the usual layers of etiquette would be suspended, and actual truth would roam free. It would 'ground' the meanings underneath the usual bureaucratic phrasings, so people wouldn't get too terribly lost in euphemisms.

For example, for one day a year, this:

Mike, I have some concerns based on some student reports about you missing class. Please drop by so we can clear this up.

could become this:

Mike, you lazy sack of shit, show up for your damn job. Christ, if not for tenure, I would have fired your sorry ass long ago.

Much better. This way, Mike actually knows what's going on, and knows that I know, too.

In a way, Candor Day would simply level the playing field. For tenured faculty, every day is Candor Day. For one day a year, it would be nice for administrators to enjoy similar impunity. Hell, it might even provide an incentive for tenured folk to think a minute before popping off the rest of the year, since they'd actually run the risk of getting a fraction of it back.

It would prove useful for any number of issues. For example, classroom observations. This:

Prof. X's lecture was wide-ranging and allusive

could become this:

Prof. X went wildly off-topic for most of the class. I suspect he missed a pill again, the smug bastard. He's a tragic waste of a six-figure salary, and who wears black suits with brown shoes, anyway?

Much better!

Or this:

Steve, I share your concerns about the time involved in adapting to ever-shifting web platforms, but we really have to do what's best for the students...

could become this:

Steve, quit whining and try working for a living. You'd last ten minutes in the real world. And don't even get me started on the factual errors in your lectures...

Finally, this chestnut:

Sam, I know you're no fan of committee work, but we really need your input...

would become:

Sam, I already have faculty who only teach classes and go home. They're called “adjuncts.” Hint, hint.

Speaking truth to power is easy. I'd like to speak truth to tenure.

How might Candor Day work for you?

(Closed-caption for the irony-challenged: this is venting for comic effect. It is not a serious proposal. Please spare me the indignant flaming. Thank you.)