When you deal with college students...
posted 10/2/2012 12:18:58 AM
...you really start to understand how terrible primary education is.
Can't comprehend what they read, can't conceive of writing arguments.
Look, I went through primary education in the 90s. It wasn't that long ago but we were a hell of a lot better equipped for entering university. Speaking with my colleagues, they agree.
You're not supposed to dumb down your course to match your students, but on the advice of others that is exactly what I've done. I have thrown out the middle of the semester, and I'm making handouts for the content that they can do on their own time.
And in the place of approaching argument in theory we are watching movies.
Not just any movies.
Films and documentaries which present both sides of an argument.
First, the documentary "Raw Deal: A Question of Consent". It focuses on a rape allegation at the University of Florida and looks at how all the involved parties and the media and public responded as the story progressed.
Started it last week, finished it today.
Second, "Battle of Algiers". About well...the Battle of Algiers. I really love the movie, so it works out well for me.
And then once we watch each movie, we'll spend up to two class periods discussing it.
And then I will prepare a list of movies which fit the criteria, and which the library here has, and they will pick one and watch it on their own and write three to five pages analyzing the positions shown therein.
It's an experiment.
Also, I'm devoting significant time at the start of each class to leading a general discussion on whatever people want to talk about. I'm not sold on it, but it does get the kids to unwittingly create arguments for their position.
But these kids can't even speak their own native language.
If I hear one more "impor-ent" instead of "important", I may scream.
And it's not just the kids I'm lecturing.
Some of my fellow history grads are just as bad.
You're a grad student in history and you can't say "antisemitism"? Instead, and I am not kidding, one person said "anti-cement-ism".
And you've been studying history for like six years and you can't say "Polybius" or "Thucydides" or "Richelieu" or "Savonarola"?
By this point, you should at least be able to figure out what language the name or word is and sound it out based on what you know about it from your courses up to this point. Unless your professor couldn't pronounce Robespierre, either.