FW: Professor makes his mark, but it costs him his job

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2009-02-07 11:00:16

#ygrps-yiv-1231965786 .ygrps-yiv-1231965786hmmessage P { PADDING-RIGHT:0px;PADDING-LEFT:0px;PADDING-BOTTOM:0px;MARGIN:0px;PADDING-TOP:0px;} #ygrps-yiv-1231965786 .ygrps-yiv-1231965786hmmessage { FONT-SIZE:10pt;FONT-FAMILY:Verdana;} Summary below, full story here:   www.theglobeandmail…. This is one professor who has seen the future of orthodox education… and dared to be different. But the professor is undeterred about those A-pluses: “Grades poison the educational environment,” he insists. “We’re training students to be obedient, and to try to read our minds, rather than being a catalyst for learning.”    ERIN ANDERSSEN From Friday’s Globe and Mail February 6, 2009 at 2:00 AM EST    OTTAWA — On the first day of his fourth-year physics class, University of Ottawa professor Denis Rancourt announced to his students that he had already decided their marks: Everybody was getting an A+.It was not his job, as he explained later, to rank their skills for future employers, or train them to be “information transfer machines,” regurgitating facts on demand. Released from the pressure to ace the test, they would become “scientists, not automatons,” he reasoned.   But by abandoning traditional marks, Prof. Rancourt apparently sealed his own failing grade: In December, the senior physicist was suspended from teaching, locked out of his laboratory and told that the university administration was recommending his dismissal and banning him from campus.    Firing a tenured professor is rare in itself, but two weeks ago the university took an even more extreme step: When Prof. Rancourt went on campus to host a regular meeting of his documentary film society, he was led away in handcuffs by police and charged with trespassing.   With his suspension raising questions of academic freedom, the Canadian Association of University Teachers has started an independent inquiry into the matter. “Universities are to be places that not only tolerate, but welcome, vigorous debate,” said executive director James Turk. “There would have to be some very serious misdeeds by Dr. Rancourt to justify this action.”   

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