Monday, March 19, 2007

A Reason Why Students Learn To Do Badly?

Today, as I opened up the detris of e-mail that had arrived over the weekend, but looked too tedious to be bothered with reading, I received notice of a couple of Summer session classes, offered in another unit of my College. Apparently, we are supposed to encourage our students to take these classes. This is one invitation I will be certain to resist.

The classes will be offered for a couple of hours each afternoon, four days a week, for three weeks in June. They are at the intermediate and (allegedly) advanced levels. According to the flyer, the classes will consist of the daily viewing and discussion of movies. When it comes to what the students will be expected to do for credit, I was amazed. The flyer claims,

"Attendance and active participation mandatory. No exams. All students will maintain an informal film journal. Students enrolled at the advanced level will make brief, but well put together formal presentations on the last day of class."

This is followed by a brief paragraph, that is heavily seeded with exclamation marks, extolling the virtues to these so-called classes.

If I have co-workers offering credit, without exams and for a mere 'informal journal', then it is little surprise that there are students who did so poorly in my mid-term. In addition to finding this flyer deeply offensive to academic and scholarly standards, it is clear that I work along side folks who wish to get a Summer check, for doing the very minimum of work.

No wonder the students have become accustomed to such shoddy standards. I find the whole thing, especially in the light of the weekend grading experience, both deeply disturbing and deeply depressing. Watch some videos, chat a bit, jot down a few thoughts, then get credit. To me, that just seems wrong.

Whatever happened to professorial integrity and the notion that grades should be earned for real academic work? Whatever happened to the virtues of having students read, rather than just watch TV?

Perhaps I have just become an old fuddy duddy. However, I am concerned that allegedly trendy 'instant messenger and I-Pod inspired' teaching methods are taking over, and replacing serious pedagogical endeavor. Have books and papers really fallen so far out of fashion? Perhaps I should forgo my summer research time, to try and teach some proper classes, instead of these weak offerings?

No, I will not! I value my research time too much. It is also important to my ability to get out of this Hell Hole. However, I will make sure that none of my advisees fall for these ersatz-classes. I thought so-called professors were supposed to be on the same side? I guess I was wrong. It seems that when there is a scam to be run, some have no standards, or scruples. Although I should not be surprised, somehow this makes this a sad day.

The CP


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A "fuddy duddy" - you??? Hardly - bit "instant messenger and I-Pod inspired teaching" certainly gives an outstanding example of technology at its worst. On the other hand, the value and quality of research which summer allows gives an example of the very positive information that can be provided by serious pedagorical endeavor. So, CP, hold fast and keep your standards at the level they are. There will always be some who are appreciative of the efforts and will be indebted to you for it. What was it Tolkien wrote about dire times? Paraphrasing - "...I wish this had never come to me - so do all who go through such times..." You'll recoup - seems like you are on the way with the 2nd post for this date!


9:41 AM  

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