Monday, December 14, 2009

Rage Against the System

Last week's discussion of teaching and teaching evaluations made me reflect more on my own experiences as a student and a professor.

As a student, I only had a few awful professors. When I ended up in a class with a professor who was a poor teacher, I was mostly disappointed rather than enraged about my wasted time or not getting my $'s worth or whatever. I was fortunate that most of these professors were merely inept teachers, not cruel or unfair. I had one cruel and unfair professor (during a year spent studying abroad), and that was more than enough.

I always got something out of a course, even if it was mostly from the reading. I recall one class that was dominated by neurotic students talking about themselves rather than focusing on the reading or general discussion topics. The professor seemed to encourage such behavior, and one day I couldn't take it anymore so I jumped out of the classroom window when the professor's back was turned (the classroom was on the ground floor) and escaped. Even so, I enjoyed the reading for that class and I got a lot out of being exposed to new literature and ideas.

As a professor, I see how hard my colleagues work at teaching (yes, even at a major research university ). And as a professor serving on committees that look at teaching evaluations for individuals over a multi-year period, I know that a common feature of the files of professors who start out as bad teachers is evidence for improvement, steady or dramatic (as discussed last week).

Outrage about uncaring and rude professors is justified, but I don't think that well-meaning but (initially) inept professors should be castigated in the same way. It's not as if every graduate student is encouraged to, or even given the opportunity to, develop teaching skills and somehow declines to do this. In most cases, the opportunities do not exist or are insufficient training for teaching a class as the major instructor. You can blame the system, but it's not fair to blame the graduate students who become the professors who have little teaching experience.


Hope said...

FSP, I’d be interested to know whether you, or other profs out there, think that the system can or should be changed to address this problem – and if so, how. Would you change it at the grad school level, providing—or even mandating—opportunities for grad students to undergo some sort of teacher training (apprenticeship or otherwise)? At the hiring level, by not hiring people who can’t present well? Or do you think that the present system, where it seems that the problem gets corrected (hopefully!) within a few semesters by the newbie profs themselves, is realistically the best we can do?

Anonymous said...

"You can blame the system, but it's not fair to blame the graduate students who become the professors who have little teaching experience

Yes I do think the system is to be blamed. But at the same time, I think the grad students who go on to become professors need to take professional responsibility for themselves even if no one is holding their hand giving them training or opportunities in teaching.

A grad student or postdoc intending to be a professor has many YEARS to realize that if they get their TT job, they will have to teach. They have YEARS to figure out and work out how to get themselves the teaching experience they need so as to not be inept when they start the job. Surely, in all the years spent first as a grad student and postdoc, it is not unreasonable to expect the individual to seek out extra-curricular activities (since the "official" institutionalized activities actively discourage time spent on teaching) that would develop their teaching skills? When I was a grad student I volunteered in K-12 outreach programs where I taught science classes to groups of middle school and high school students. This greatly prepared me for my first college teaching classes because I was already familiar with things like currucilum design and prep, and different teaching styles for different types of classes, I was just tweaking my teaching to suit a different audience, rather than starting from absolute zero.

Seeing as how you have many years in grad school and postdoc, surely you can spend at least some of that time seeking out much-needed professional development on your own time?

It's all about taking responsibility as an individual, as a professional, and not just going along with the flawed system. And I think part of the flawed system is when advisors/mentors/PIs tell their trainees "don't bother about your future teaching responsibilities, just concentrate on research and cross the teaching bridge when you get there, it's OK to be inept your first year as long as you improve afterwards."

Yuriy said...

It's not clear to me that the fact that, for each professor, teaching evaluations improve over time, implies that their teaching improves. There are two alternate hypotheses that appeal to me:
1. The professors overfit their behavior to their feedback. Certainly, making a class easier would improve the evaluations.
2. The professors get easier with age. I've observed / been told that young researchers write much tougher paper reviews. As they mature, they are more receptive of other people's work and look more at the positives than the negatives. A similar approach might be happening with teaching. Professors, as they mature, may enjoy teaching more, grade easier, and reward small amounts of effort more, while punishing mistakes less. This could lead to improved reviews.

It seems unlikely that either your hypothesis alone, or either of my two, are the cause for the improvement in teaching evaluation. Most likely, it is a combination of the three, and perhaps of others.

Anonymous said...

FSP...I suggest you do not step outside the United States. Maybe you should enroll in the Air Force and help your country against those bloody non Americans. People outside the US are always so cruel and unfair to you. But, wait... I think the Air Force has a sexist policy on women in combat... Damn!

Meadow said...

LOL about jumping out the window.

FSGrad said...

It was unclear to me if you meant that we, as people who know better, should cut them some slack (I agree and expect to be in that boat at some point in the future), or if we should expect the undergrads, who have no idea of the training process (or lack thereof) to cut the same slack. I think the latter is unrealistic, especially at your average SLAC, where the students are paying top-dollar for Teachers, not HotShot Research Scientists.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

The professor seemed to encourage such behavior, and one day I couldn't take it anymore so I jumped out of the classroom window when the professor's back was turned (the classroom was on the ground floor) and escaped.

FSP FTWBBQZOMFG!!111!!!111!!!!1!

Anonymous said...

"one day I couldn't take it anymore so I jumped out of the classroom window when the professor's back was turned (the classroom was on the ground floor) and escaped.

FSP FTWBBQZOMFG!!111!!!111!!!!1!"

My thoughts exactly!!!

I do have to say that I think the best/only way that teaching is going to improve is if the senior collegues of new profs demand it improves (ie the people responsible for the prof's tenue decision). If we keep saying things like "well, it's OK to suck for your first year - you're just learning," then grad students will continue to push off getting teaching experience until those first years as profs. In fact those who bother getting any experience will be at a disadvantage compared to their peers that focus soley on research.

If instead senior collegues begin to say "it is completely unprofessional to suck as an instructor, no matter what" then young scientists will begin to realize they need to actually try to figure out how to be good instructors, as well as good researchers. It would be nice if this went without saying (it's always unprofessional to do your job badly), but as long as bad teaching is tolerated, there will always be some "cheaters" that don't bother to try.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think students at R1 institutions ARE paying top dollar for Hot shot research professors. While these hot shots may not always be the best teachers, they are the best in their fields, and that is an important part of what students are paying for.

Students do, however, pay top $ for good teachers at primarily graduate institutions (PUIs) or liberal arts colleges. In these institutions, a teaching lecture is required as part of the interview process, and it is not uncommon for faculty to have one or more years of teaching experience as a visiting assistant professor before they are hired into a tenure track position. Other common career training aspects here include teaching/postdoc positions that take 3 or more years instead of the standard 2 or to even take time off (say, summers), to teach courses at the postdoc institution. This is all a good idea if you want to teach (small PUI) and a terrible idea if you want to primarily research. As somebody who teaches at one of these PUI institutions, I can tell you that teaching is considered strongly as part of the tenure package, and efforts made to improve teaching, such as going to professional development workshops, are looked upon favorably.

As a society, however, it is unlikely to benefit us too much to have the best of the best, focused researchers get too bogged down in improving their teaching evaluations. Good students at R1s have a chance to ask their questions of the best of the best, perhaps even to work in research labs with the best of the best, and there's something to be said for having access to all of that cutting edge greatness, even if the hot shot's primary focus is not on the undergraduate experience of his or her courses.

biochem belle said...

It's not as if every graduate student is encouraged to, or even given the opportunity to, develop teaching skills and somehow declines to do this.

This is quite true. I had more opportunity as an undergrad than during grad school. My last year in UG I taught a gen chem lab section (proctored by a great faculty mentor). Although the lab exercises/syllabus were set from the start, I was responsible for developing prelab lectures. I did no TA service as a grad student, but in my dept., everything was standardized-reports, quizzes, prelabs, etc. I have been discouraged from seeking out or engaging in teaching because it "distracts" from research.

Anonymous said...

I could not disagree more! Over the years I have been decorated with over 100 teaching awards (university, national and international teaching awards). If we start to train people to become better teachers, then I will not receive as many awards.

Also, teaching evaluations by students are useless. Trained evaluators should audit courses to judge teaching ability. I don't send my manuscripts to undergrads to review, I send them to trained people to evaluate.

Female Science Professor said...

On the evaluating committees, we examine student evaluation of teaching and peer evaluation of teaching (in which the peers are typically senior professors who are known to be excellent teachers). The points of view are of course very different, but the overall conclusions of the evaluations are typically not so different.

Also, re. my apparently raging xenophobia, I hesitated to include the parenthetical expression that specified that my worst experience with a professor was during a year abroad, but in the end I mentioned it because some of my readers know where I went to college (and some went to college with me), so I included it as a point of information. When I was a student, I attributed the evil professor's ability to be cruel to students (not just me) to the fact that he taught at a large university. At the time, I was more ignorant of large universities than I was of other countries.

Prof-like Substance said...

Whereas I think grad students and postdocs should be given the opportunity to do limit teaching if they want to, it's unrealistic to think that everyone who wants a TT job is going to seek out teaching experience. Most of the ways in which we are evaluated (in research-focused institutions) are related to research, from grad school to tenure. Maybe that's a flaw in the system, but it's what we've got at the moment. Everything in nature responds to selection.

Anonymous said...

I think the system is definitely to be blamed because my graduate institution has teaching workshops and oversight for new grad TAs as well as for new profs, and it makes a huge difference. The "green" factor is still present, but it is mitigated.

In fact one of my profs, a new prof who is a superstar researcher, had a surprise eval in the middle of the semester by a senior prof, who sat through the lecture and then interviewed us afterward. We gave positive remarks, mostly due to applications of methods learned in the same seminars we all had to attend. My point here is that the superstar prof was putting in a lot of effort to run the class effectively because of knowing the institutions priorities.

a physicist said...

I agree that ideally everybody should prepare to be good teachers right from the start. But, I am a little unsure how to do this preparation. In my experience, one has to learn to be a good teacher through teaching. It's not something you can learn from a book or a seminar or a workshop (although all of those help). So, the bottom line is that everybody has, at some point, to teach their first class. Who do we want to be the poor students subjected to this? It's going to be hard on whoever they are... won't it?

But I do agree, we should tell graduate students (and first-year faculty) that the expectations are high and that they must put in the time and effort to do a good job. Time & effort & good intentions do a lot to improve the performance of first time teachers, I think.

Wanna Be Mother said...

The system is totally and completely flawed. How many professors become professors because they actually want to teach? How many are just doing the teaching because it gives them to independence to pursue whatever research they would like, unlike in an industrial or government lab setting? I think there should be more teaching professorships at undergraduate institutions and just research professorships, both of which should have respected status (unlike lecturers, who are often treated like crap, from what I hear, and are disposable). I think this is an especially good idea in these times, where educating all members of our society in basic science is important because so many scientific issues face our society these days. Why remove all potentially very good teachers from the possibility of becoming profs at R1 universities when they could do a great job and help the hard-core researchers (who just want to spend 24/7 in the lab) have more time for research? People should be able to choose research or teaching or both.

Every 1 hour of class time I took at my UC public university (which at the time was a lot cheaper) costed me about ~$15, which at the time was about twice the cost of a movie ticket. I thought about that each and every time I had to sit through a terrible lecture. I continued to attend all of my classes despite this, because I felt I should at least get what I paid for, even if that was crap. I did learn more from the books in those classes, but it's not like the books were included in the price of the class. Yes, I tried to keep a positive attitude about it and still love, for example, Real Analysis, despite the fact that my prof was terrible, because I had an amazing book and could teach myself to understand and appreciate the beauty of the subject. But, I still think it is unacceptable the way the system is currently run. Please stop putting profs into the classroom until you are sure that they will do a good job. Please allow people like me, who love science and love people and teaching but don't love endless hours in the lab, to become teaching profs and help teach more people to appreciate science.

Anonymous said...

"Or do you think that the present system, where it seems that the problem gets corrected (hopefully!) within a few semesters by the newbie profs themselves, is realistically the best we can do?"

Essentially all mechanisms of getting graduate students more teaching experience so they are better when they start as professors would involve placing them in front of a class as an instructor. The simple fact is EVERYONE will have a first time teaching experience, and they will be not as competent at that point. Someone pointed out student teachers as an example of how we should train future professors, but if you are a student in a class with an inept student teacher, you suffer the consequences.

The current situation is not ideal, but it may be nearly as good as any alternative. Our Department has reviewed seven folks this term for tenure or promotion to full professor. Thus far 6 of the 7 received rating of 4 our of 5 in at least one of their courses (generally the smaller one), and the worst was rated 3.7, and because of a joint appointment in the Med School this person only teaches a large (200 student) intro genetics class, which is notorious for its bad student ratings. I think my colleagues, on the whole, are excellent teachers.

Mark P

FrauTech said...

You raise some interesting points. As a student, I do find the newer profs tend to be worse (this isn't always true, my chem teacher was teaching her absolute first class as a PhD [i suspect she'd TA'd previously] and she was marvelous, and tough, good balance). Sometimes it seems like this is out of revenge for us poor undergrads. Sometimes I think it is because the professor is closer to studying/memorizing this material and so expects us to have a higher degree of memorization, versus older professors who've been working with these equations in their research recognize that the ability to apply rather than just memorize is more important. Also some of my foreign born professors (and let's keep in mind most of my profs are foreign born) seem to have this impression that they worked extremely hard to get into schools in the US and that all of us native-born students already here for our undergrad have things really easy. It's true that our high schools are often not as rigorous as foreign high schools, but self-righteous "i've worked harder than you to be here, you should be greatful" attitudes are always annoying.

I rarely get angry at my "bad" professors. Instead, sometimes, I feel really sorry for them. Sometimes I can tell they are great people, just not doing as good a job as they could be. And it's hard to mark someone down on student evals when you know that they are trying and just don't really know how. But maybe I am the exception to that rule, as a student who has done presentations in the real world and seen how difficult it is to engage an audience and get across a concept that isn't particularly interesting.

BB said...

It's possible not to have to teach while in grad school (the program with which I'm affiliated is a case in point).
However, the smart PhD who wants a career blending teaching with research will seek out teaching opportunities as a post-doc. In other words, you don't have to learn it all as a grad student; there's room for growth later on.

amy said...

I'm having trouble figuring out my view on this because the terms aren't well-defined. What do we mean by good or lousy teachers? I can imagine several kinds of bad teaching. 1) would be someone who is smart and working hard at teaching, but who is very nervous, or bad at presentation skills, or inexperienced in how to prepare for class. I would cut such a person lots of slack, but I would also expect such problems to clear up within a few weeks. Suppose I'm a new teacher and I walk into class having only done 30 minutes of prep, and then I find out I'm underprepared. I'd better correct that before the next class! Some people may always be nervous and perhaps have a shaky voice or not make good eye contact. Fine -- students can still learn perfectly well. 2) would be someone who doesn't give a crap and who does the minimum possible to prep for class. I've only had one teacher like this, and I dropped the class. Literally, all he did in class was prop the textbook on the podium and read aloud the selection we had been assigned for that day. He couldn't answer any questions on it at all. I don't care if someone is just out of grad school and has no teacher training; there's no excuse for this kind of thing, and I wouldn't cut it any slack. 3) would be someone who gives great lectures but hasn't learned about all the new pedagogy that recommends "active learning" and small group work, etc. I personally don't define this as lousy teaching at all, but I know some people do. 4) is the much tougher case of someone who is smart, who cares about their teaching, but who has a lot of trouble explaining things in a way that is appropriate for the level of class being taught. That is something that really does take years of practice, so you have to cut it some slack. But it also does truly interfere with students' ability to learn. In this case, I think grad programs have an obligation to train grad students in how to explain their research and their discipline to a general audience. It's not just important for teaching, but for presenting one's work to others, for schmoozing at conferences, etc. Still, though, students in that person's first few classes will have a tough time.

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to agree that the system does not make it easy for graduate students to develop their teaching skills and that it's not surprising if newbie profs are not as effective as they could be in the classroom.

My question is, what do people think about the implications for the unlucky class(es) of undergrads who serve as a newbie prof's guinea pigs? What happens if they move on to other courses within the department and haven't fully mastered the material from the newbie prof's class? Does anyone trace the problem back to the newbie prof, or is the lack of preparation blamed on the students, or what?

I'd like to see answers to Hope's questions (first comment), and I appreciate Anonymous's call (12/14/09 1:20 a.m.) for graduate students to take the initiative themselves.

Anonymous said...

1. I don't understand. So if you teach, badly, since you don't have experience, as a grad student or postdoc, is it not the same students that are "suffering"? One has to start from somewhere and improve. Someone will "suffer" anyway, although this "suffering" is overrated. I think people that have so "strong" principles in telling OTHERS what to do and to go beyond themselves to please the customers, are just a tiny bit envious [:D] The grad student/postdoc teaching badly due to inexperience is OK, bc/ at least he/she is being paid close to nothing.

2. Having better evals. doesn't equal better teaching. Undergrads are incompetents in evaluating teaching. Students in Europe do not do evals and they are learning allright. This is customer service bullshit.

3. Before evaluations are replaced with something better, you have to teach to evaluations (i.e. want the customer wants not what the customer needs) if you want to survive. Nobody wants to be an efing hero.

Anonymous said...

How do people have a positive first teaching experience? I had the good fortune to be on the instructor committee for a series of community classes. Though this wasn't the first experience I had with teaching, it was the experience that most improved my teaching skills.

First we went through the entire course (8 sessions) ourselves.

Then we sat the the entire course as an "instructor" who had the title but wasn't allowed to teach. We were asked to pay special attention to what the other instructors did and give them feedback (both positive and negative). The experienced instructors who weren't actually teaching that session also gave input.

Usually the first experience was as giving a small subset of the lecture for one of the sessions. Of course, feedback was given as above. Then we were allowed to teach a whole section of the course (1 hour out of a 3-hour session) by ourselves.

Note that EVERYONE was evaluated every single time they taught, both by students and other instructors. Even the guy who'd been there for 10 years. And we all ended up as dynamite instructors.

I wonder how we might come up with something similar for grad school/newbie profs?

ChemProf said...

Our university is very proactive about this. We have a teaching unit which essentially is the basics of university teaching, assessment etc. in the context of our university. There is resistance to it (I certainly tried to avoid it as a 4 day waste of time), especially as it is an official unit, with reasonable assessment tasks. However it is a condition of probation so there is no way out. Despite my initial resistance, this was the best thing I could have done to help with so many aspects of teaching I just wasn't going to guess on my own. Coupled with a great (and also compulsory) system for student evaluation of teaching it has made the transition much easier. Another thing I think that really works well is peer observation of teaching - sit in on your colleagues classes and offer them constructive feedback. I find that every time I do this I learn something new, and that I now wish others would do it for me more often. It really is one of the most useful things you can do, and it is also promotes a cooperative and supportive workplace.

Alex said...

The only way around the "everybody has a first time" problem is to make the first time a very carefully mentored experience, to minimize the chances of it being a negative one for students. Unfortunately, such a carefully-constructed first teaching experience is easier said than done. Some might say that being a TA should be that sort of carefully-mentored first experience, but even with all of the support in the world a TA leading a discussion section in support of somebody else's classes is still in a completely different game than actually running a class, preparing the lectures, etc.

I suspect that no large-scale systematic solution is possible, unless lots of resources are invested in faculty development, and even then a lot of those resources should go to lecturers/adjuncts (i.e. the roles in which a lot of people will get their first full teaching assignments) and some of it to careful grooming of TAs. But that is unlikely to happen, so the next best thing is to do the best you can to mentor your own TAs, and help groom grad students and postdocs with promise for teaching (e.g. let them cover a class while you're at a conference, and help prepare them for it).

LadyScientist said...

Your post and the comments inspired me to write a comment that turned into my own post.

It's nice to read that you and your colleagues work hard at your teaching. I actually think most professors would like to be good teachers but sometimes don't have the time or resources readily available.

Do you think profs would use and/or benefit from teaching seminars if they were available? Or do many professors you know make other efforts to learn how to become better teachers (beyond addressing problems that become evident in evaluations)?

amy said...

LadyScientist raises the issue of teaching seminars. I don't know what others' experiences have been, but at my school these seminars and workshops are a waste of time. They're run by people with education degrees, and their pedagogy-talk is impenetrable. All acronyms and buzzwords. They're also fixated on cool technology and don't seem to care about or understand the basics. I don't need to know how to set up a chat room for my classes, and I don't need to hear all the psycho-babble about how electronic interfaces increase learner engagement. I need to know how to deal with students who cannot write a coherent sentence, and who can't read anything more complicated than a magazine article. I don't have any training in remedial education, and I don't know where to get it. My own grad professors couldn't train me in that because they never had to do such teaching themselves. As is common for many people, I think, I'm teaching at a much lower level school than the one I attended for grad school.

Female Math Grad Student said...

I'm a graduate student who just completed my first semester of teaching my own course. I haven't seen my course evaluations yet (they come out next week), but I don't have any illusions that they're going to be great. I realize that I'm still trying to figure out how to be an effective teacher and I recognize that some of my students will probably be very harsh in describing my shortcomings.

However terrible my first course evaluations may be, I think that they would have been much worse without the wonderful mentorship program that my department has in place for new teachers. Every grad student instructor is paired with a tenured faculty member with an excellent teaching record. Before we begin teaching, we meet with our faculty mentors to discuss the syllabus and any concerns that we have about the course. Throughout the semester, the mentor observes our class once every three weeks, then spends 30 minutes after each observation giving us feedback. The mentor is also our "go to" person if we decide that we need advice (ex. how to respond to bizarre behavior from students, how to determine end-of-term grades, whether our exams are appropriate, etc.).

The teaching mentor program requires relatively little from the faculty (approximately 5 hours of their time for observing classes/debriefing afterwards, plus occasional e-mail responses). However, I felt that it had a huge impact on the quality of my teaching.

If nothing else, my students were aware that I was participating in a teaching mentorship program, so they knew that I was trying to improve my teaching skills. I'm hoping that they'll cut me a little bit of slack.

Kim said...

Last week, my students asked me about the strangest thing I had ever seen in class. If I had seen you jump out of the window of a classroom, that would have won.

Kevin said...

Our university prohibits TAs from teaching full classes (it is against both university policy and the TA union contract).

An interesting approach was used by one student who is interested in improving his teaching---he prepared a short course (3 8-hour days) on assembling genomes from next-generation sequencing data, with the assistance of his adviser and his lab mates. They are teaching this course to a group of about 40 biologists, bioinformaticians, and oceanographers. Most of the class are grad students or postdocs, with a sprinkling of research staff, faculty, and undergrads.

Both the course design and the inevitable difficulties (like wireless overload on the in-class exercises) are good experiences for the student teaching the class. The students are more tolerant of problems than undergrad and are more appreciative of the substantial content, but do not hesitate to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.

I wish we could offer such opportunities to all our students, but it takes a pretty dedicated and confident grad student to design and propose such a course.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money.

At a PUI, the money comes from undergrads. There is pressure for profs to be good teachers.

At a state-funded R1, the number of students and their tuition is often mandated by the state. Where does the money come from to keep departments afloat? Research recapture.

Is the system really broken at R1's, or is it just optimized to keep universities running within the constraints of a really crappy funding structure?

Siz said...

Basically, this is a no win situation. All of those people complaining about professors not getting enough teaching training would be the same people complaining about paying a bunch of money to have a graduate student teach their class.

So, if you're going to feel shafted by having a graduate student teach your lecture course that you're hard earned money is paying for. . . where are graduate students supposed to getting teaching experience from?

I fortunately went to a PhD institution that highly pushed internships. I had the opportunity to be the sole instructor for a 160 person introductory lecture course at a PUI during my PhD. This experience was invaluable for me and made my first year as assistant prof at RIU much much easier.

Anonymous said...

Undergrads feel ripped off because they pay money to be taught

Scientists feel ripped off because the university doesn't pay us anything in many cases. All those grants they tax us off do.

The primary job of a university is knowledge production and desemination. We don't get paid to teach so clearly it isn't that important.

At least that's what it looks like to me.


Anonymous said...

Having gone through the things as a new hire, I have a few suggestions that could have helped me than to be thrown in to the class on the first day. I was basically hired one month before, and was told that I will have to teach a large introductory undergrad class.

1. seniors sharing the class notes, and course materials

2. not putting the pressure of peer evaluations and evaluation after the first year

3. increase one year in the tenure clock, and dedicate that for improving ones teaching

4. if possible co-teach a course for one or 2 semesters

5. inform the students, and pay attention to the integrity of the students. Are they really good students/ i.e by doing the required course work did they earn the chance to evaluate or is it just that they did not get an easy grade n tough class etc

Milwaukee said...

"The professor seemed to encourage such behavior, and one day I couldn't take it anymore so I jumped out of the classroom window when the professor's back was turned (the classroom was on the ground floor) and escaped."

PERFECT! How many times does this line be reposed!?

Alison said...

A system is like a set of beliefs, you eat, sleep and die with it - I do not think the efforts directed towards it will work.