Academic Phrasebank

University of Manchester, Nov 27, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This University of Manchester 'academic phrasebank' was sent to me almost a week ago now, and I've been reading through it, mulling it, and trying to pin down why I find it so unsatisfactory. And it's not simply that it's a 'how-to' guide instructing students in the arcane are of obfuscation. It's because it substitutes the rote use of formulae and phrases for actual knowledge of linguistic structure and clarity of expression. It's like old-school mathematics, which is based on memorizing rather than comprehension. For example, there's a section on quantification. The phrasebank throws a list of phrases at readers. It is grammatically incorrect ("Over half..."). It is imprecise ("The average of 12 observations..."). It is passive ("... has experienced an 89% increase ...").  It doesn't indicate anywhere what a quantification is, and what it is of. It's a guide for people who don't understand what they're trying to say and how to say it, and it substitutes formula for clarity. Such is so much of learning today. Image: Mobogenie.

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