Friday, February 9, 2018

Australia is a country

From The Chronicle of Higher Education, not The Onion: “Southern New Hampshire University has apologized to a student who failed an assignment because her professor insisted Australia was a continent, not a country.”

I especially like the professor’s reply to an e-mail from the student, who provided a link to the website of the Australian government: “Thank you for this web address. After I do some independent research on the continent/country issue I will review your paper.” And when the professor acknowledged her error, she warned the student to “make sure the date, the facts, and the information you provide in your report is about Australia the country and not Australia the continent.”

The date? The facts and the information? The date, facts, and information is? A “report”? This is college?

comments: 6

Diane Schirf said...

Very sloppy reporting. The person is described first as an "instructor" (which I believe could be a grad student—I had a grad student math instructor at UofC), then as a "professor" in the rest of the article. They don't mention the class name or purpose. As for the repetition, there's also the verb that doesn't match: "make sure the date [sic—"data"], the facts, and the information you provide in your report is."

I know off the top of my aging head that Australia is both a continent and country. No research needed.

Michael Leddy said...

I’ll stick up for the Chronicle here: the school said “instructor,” but the article consistently uses “professor.” The class isn’t named (which might preserve the professor’s anonymity), but the article describes the project as involving a comparison of social norms (my guess would be a sociology class). At the end of the post, I flagged the subject–verb problem and other bits in the professor’s e-mail: the professor is to blame there.

I was thinking this morning about how much stuff this professor is likely unaware of: say, the widely reported call between Trump and the Australian prime mininster, the refugees on Nauru — basic stuff.

But I’ve been trying to figure out which is older: the continent, or the country? :)

Diane Schirf said...

Why would the Chronicle use "professor" when the school called the position "instructor"?

Fresca said...

I looked it up and was a little surprised to learn the continent of Australia contains (covers? is comprised of? curates? :) ) more than the country of Australia--I didn't know it includes Papua New Guinea and part of Indonesia.
I expect you knew that, but I don't think that was what the professor meant... I mean, it wasn't a geoglogy class.

Looked further and learned the concept of "continent" varies a bit, but "Geologists generally maintain that continents are divided not by land or water as you see on a map, but continental crusts that are only seen in the many layers of rock, sand, and sediment that form the continental plates."

www.whatarethe7continents.com/the-continents-definition-what-is-a-continent

Michael Leddy said...

I too was surprised to learn that the continent includes other countries. Live and learn.

I remember (or I think I do) that there’s an interesting debate about Central America: which continent?

In third grade, Elaine figured out by looking at a map that the continents were once joined. Her teacher told her she was wrong.

Michael Leddy said...

“Instructor” is sometimes administrative jargon, as in “the instructor of record.” Maybe “professor” is house style?