Category Archives: Institutional Ethics

Standards of Nonsensical Behavior

Yesterday (5 April 2011), I completed an ethics training module on-line at work. I didn’t want to do it, but the e-mail messages from the Department of Employee Aggravation were getting menacing. Ironically, the module was on the subject of conflict resolution. Cheerful images of black men looking thoughtful and Asian women waving pens in front of them popped up, while the four approaches to conflict and the nine steps to resolution spread across the screen. I clicked on the arrow to change the page as fast as the computer could handle and raced to the inevitable quiz. This raises a couple of points:

1. If you, my good readers, have to take such foolishness, when you come to the quiz, channel Oprah Winfrey to answer the questions. The answer that has the greatest degree of psychobabble and warm fuzziness is the correct one, from the perspective of the creators of the module. As an example, according to the one that I endured yesterday, the best approach to resolving conflict is a collaborationist one. Look up a man named Quisling for more on that method.

2. But of greater importance, what is the purpose of those modules? I imagine that the college can report to those who care that its employees have completed “training” in good behavior. I am glad that I didn’t have to work any harder to satisfy the requirements, but as a matter of principle, I dislike having my time wasted for me. I can waste my time on my own, thank you very much.

Since these modules clearly aren’t meant to achieve anything beyond putting a checkmark in a box, why not just check that box without asking me to do anything? Or if I must, I’ll check the box.

The better approach would be to eliminate all such foolishness. These training modules are a bandage. If they’re meant to patch a punctured artery, they’re far too little. If, on the other hand, they’re intended to assuage institutional hypochondria, they’re just plain silly.

Besides which, if you leave a bandage on too long, what lies beneath becames pale and smelly. . .