Monday, August 21, 2006

Party or Purity

MSNBC explores students' opinions of party schools vs. sober schools. Here's the story.

At the nearby campus where I formerly was employed, they started the fall term this past Thursday. Now, Thursday being the most popular swilling-of-liquor day for the under-25 set, that meant Friday's classes (for the departments that still have them) were populated by bleary-eyed young adults nursing the first awful hangover of the semester. Lunch picker-upper: Subway sandwich and cold beer.

Talked to one of my favorite profs today. I asked how many students he has in his three classes this term. One has more than 50 enrolled. That's too many. "I'll have to be scary the first day," he says, "to run a few of them off."

You know that we do this, right? When there are 30 desks in the room and 38 students signed up, the tried-and-true technique for profs is to be really dour and strict the first day. Play up the number of papers and tough exams. Harp on the massive amount of reading and the no-excuses-accepted attendance policy. By the next classtime, the number has been winnowed down to a management size. Drops galore. That's good. Nobody has to sit in the lefthanded and/or busted desk or drag a folding chair over from the closet down the hall.

And, no surprise, suddenly some of those quizzes and extra readings disappear from the sked. And the prof actually cracks some jokes.

You do what you gotta do.


Anonymous Becca said...

But I'm left-handed so I always got there early to snatch the left-handed desk. I also always dragged it front and center. Because I am Evil.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Heheh. I always hated those no-excuses policies as a high school student attending uni classes. Snow days (in Michigan!) were brutal... they never plowed our street and my dad's car was a little hatchback with rear wheel drive. They wouldn't excuse even my absences when my mom died from cancer. Yeah, like I enrolled there when I got accepted (it was my safety school).

12:01 AM  
Blogger MadHat said...

Yeah, we all know that little trick that profs play. we just play along... :)

1:53 AM  
Blogger BlondebutBright said...

Some of the best teaching advice I've heard: "Better to start off as a bitch and become lenient, than to start off lenient and become a bitch."

So, so true.

3:19 AM  
Blogger graycie said...

Wish we had that power in public high schools! The most I can do is to delete kids from my computerized gradebook -- but they keep showing up anyway.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Graycie -

I can relate! But from the other side of the desk. Youngest daughter just started college classes yesterday. She heard rumors that her PoliSci prof was horrible, so her big sister turned her on to the wonders of the Rate Your Prof website. Turns out, the rumors are true. The guy is also the Department Head. I understand no one in their right mind will take a class from a Dept. Head.

Anyway ... she went on line, dropped his class, picked up another one with a better prof that still fit into her schedule. All in less than 5 minutes' time, and without Big Brother telling her what she could and couldn't choose to do.

She was beyond thrilled.

We went through weeks of utter hell last fall trying to get her transferred out of a Spanish V class (the teacher was certifiably insane, I kid you not) in public high school. And don't get me started on what to do if your kid gets assigned to a shitty so-called guidance counselor simply because of the first letter of his/her last name.

SO glad to finally have all our girls out of public schools and into real life.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Dolores said...

I'm a student at that nearby campus and I absolutely look forward to that first day. (Took me two semesters to figure out that pattern). I love seeing everyone's faces when the professor harps on us for something we haven't even done yet. Not that I don't take the professor seriously or anything; I do. I just enjoy seeing the strategy in action. (Would it surprise anyone if I said I'm a psych major?)

Also, about three of my professors have used that in their classes this year. My Linguistics professor, whose class I thoroughly enjoy, was, for the lack of a better description, a total hardass to everyone. The second day as soon as she realized that you were in her class to work and learn and not just get a passing grade to fulfill a requirement.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Dolores said...

Oops, okay finishing that last sentence...

"The second day as soon as she realized that you were in her class to work and learn and not just get a passing grade to fulfill a requirement"... you're fine on her list.

7:40 PM  

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