10 Jun 2010


JW further complained, “How would teachers be motivated to teach? The university does not reward good teaching at all.”

“Good teachers are actually punished,” I echoed. “Not directly, of course. However, when a teacher puts much emphasis on education, he will have less time for research.”

On the surface, universities must state they consider teaching important. In reality, teaching performance can hardly be measured and does not help the ranking of universities. Thus, the decision to promote an academic lies almost solely on measurable success in research output, such as the number of articles published, impact factor, citations, h-index and research grants. Some universities also attempt to assess an academic’s international reputation. How do they do that? Again, they can only use measurable parameters such as the number of times a teacher is invited to another country to give talks. As such, teachers who stay with their local students all the time are considered losers who lack international reputation.

These points are nothing new and have been elaborated by our friend Szeto many times before. Instead, the discussion brought my thoughts back to the topic of core value.

A few years ago, JW introduced the book Built to Last to me. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras described one of the consistent characteristics of successful companies was the preservation of core values. It appears that the content of core values is irrelevant. So far as a company sincerely upholds its core value, the staff can be motivated and the institution will have the drive to progress.

What interests me is the way they define core values: “Core values are the organization’s essential and enduring tenets, not to be compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency.” As Jesus said, even a tax collector loves his friends. But how many can uphold their core values when the very act results in severe punishment?

While I think I know what my core value is, I must say that I have never been really tested. I will just have to see.

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