This week’s Friday Funny is an edited excerpt from a short after-dinner speech given by Jane Davidson at the Claremont symposium to honor Michael Scriven’s career (August 2011).
I came into CGU in 1996 to study organizational behavior. In my first semester I waived out of Methods and Stats and took a Theory-Driven Evaluation course with Stewart Donaldson.
[Of course, my first challenge as an international student was understanding American English … Stewart kept talking about stakeholders, stakeholders … and everyone else seemed to know what he meant, but I wondered for ages: “Who were these people, and just why did they have to stay cold?”]
I was in my second year of doctoral studies at CGU when this guy called Michael Scriven walked in the door and changed the world – as you do when you’re Michael Scriven …
I will always remember the very first class. There were close to 20 first year evaluation masters students; several doctoral students from the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences; and a smattering of others – students, staff and faculty – from across the Claremont Colleges who’d heard Michael was in town and just didn’t want to miss anything.
Michael started his introduction to the topic of evaluation. He was making some interesting points, which of course leads one to start thinking about them while he’s talking, so you drift off a little …
The next thing you know you’ve missed the next chunk of information, and of course, this is the point where Michael throws in a question: “What’s the problem with that idea?”
Um … what’s the problem with what idea??
There was a silence … no-one dared speak first … until one of my more brilliant colleagues, who was trained in philosophy – and had obviously heard the original question – piped up.
All the other students heaved a sigh of relief that someone else had volunteered …
… that is, until they heard Michael’s response.
“Well,” said Michael, “That’s a bit vaccuous, isn’t it?”
Instantly, every single first year student – and most of the rest – swore they would never EVER raise their hand in Michael’s class.