The college where I teach went through a process that was labeled "transformative change." This is a nice academic label that, when you get right down to it, ranks right up there with other redundancies like "shared commonalities," "accomplished achievements," and "slippery snot." At least transformative change sounds better than slippery snot, but does that mean it's more desirable? After all, slippery snot wasn't slippery snot until it went through transformative change.

This process of transformative change was the impetus for lots of intellectual straining and creative public prose proselytizing, postulating and purporting positive prescriptions for promoting "deep understandings of disciplinary and interdisciplinary investigations." We were suppose to create a system where faculty, "pull their weight equally according to a set of shared expectations and values," and "the accomplished and engaged learner and the accomplished and engaged teacher-scholar" work together in "a system that is both flexible and equitable, a system that can provide similar workloads for engineers and historians;" a system that "transforms classrooms into learner-centered communities."

At some point during this transformative change process that took almost two years to implement, I began feeling that I was in a real-life version of a series of Dilbert cartoon strips. Some days I felt like Dilbert, and others more like Wally. Wally goes with the flow. He's a survivor who, unlike Dilbert, doesn't get stressed about the events that surround him.

I put on my Dilbert hat and questioned this concept of transformative change. I was told that lots of change is not transformative. If you are confused, I think I can explain it like this. When my dog eats a hunk of meat and then throws it back up, the meat has only been changed slightly, being somewhat more slimy and a little chewed. It has been changed but not transformed. However if the meat goes all the way through my dog and comes out the other end, there has been transformative change.

In spite of this rather cynical view, I did my part "to create a curricular system that facilitates exemplary learning experiences and promotes engaged and independent learning." After all, I was too old to look for another job. Or as some employers would say, I was beyond the point of transformative change. 

You really can teach an old dog new tricks. The problem is in motivating the dog to think that the new tricks are really worth doing. And therein lies the problem with my school's efforts at transformative change. That piece of meat that my dog transformed could become valuable fertilizer... or it could just be a bunch of shit.