Thursday, July 2, 2009

Posting In Class

Last year I posted once while in class. I don't remember the occasion or the reason why, but I kind of just felt like it. We're in break right now after a lecture on the short-run tradeoff between inflation and unemployment. For the most part everything we're learning in class is pretty logically organized. The tradeoffs are easy to grasp, meaning that all the exchanges that occur make sense.

I wish my class was more discussion based. Everyone else has a class that has more group interaction. On the other hand, my class is lecture based, I sit at my desk and take notes on the presentation my teacher makes. I realize that most of my freshmen classes in college will probably be lecture based, with discussion groups after, but maybe by then I'll grow more accustomed to it.

Last night, I attended a discussion on International Relations (IR) held by a few of the RAs who are taking classes in that concentration. I had already talked to another RA who was taking Econ and IR at the brunch on Sunday, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what IR had to offer. Still, I wanted to see if any of the other students had questions that I had not asked before.

Turns out, I already knew a lot about what IR is about or what it requires. A lot of the questions were about Brown's Open Curriculum and how IR fits in with that or how AP credits would affect placement. I could see that a lot of the students wanted to see if they could skip classes and get ahead in their studies, which kind of annoyed me, because a lot of the students came off as obnoxious and thought that because they did well on AP tests that they were entitled to skipping classes. However, that's really a personal opinion and taste.

In reality, the RAs explained that Brown usually offered higher placement for AP tests rather than actually "credit", and that because Brown has an open curriculum with no GE's, getting out of a class does give more opportunity to take classes one is interested in, but the advantage is not as much as if one got out of a GE at another university. Also, IR doesn't have as many requisite classes as other majors, something like 10 compared to a science where they may have 14 or so. This combined with the open curriculum really lets students tailor the major to their own interests.

I'm really looking forward to going back to New York tomorrow and visiting Columbia. With all the information that I know now about my personal taste in universities and what I'm looking for in one, I think I can make a better judgement while looking over the city.


Charles Tillman Ramsey said...

Thanks Dennis for your insightful comment. I am glad that you explored and got to participate in a group discussion.

You have gotten a lot of the Ivy League Connection. I recall last year your hesitancy in becoming part of this program. Can you share your opinions now and let us know if coming into this program has made a big difference in your life.

What advice would you give to those who may hesitate in becoming a part of this program. What will you share to the younger motivated students when you return to El Cerrito High School. Last year, Kiana Ward had a lot of doubts, but look what it did for her and now she is on her way as a Freshman this fall at Brown.

Why do you think that many of our district students cling to the West Coast and never evaluate or even consider going East to an Ivy. I welcome your response.

Thanks again Dennis for your marvelous and thoughtful posts. You have made a big difference in this program.

Take care. Enjoy the Big Apple! Just 24 hours to go.

Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
School Board Member
West Contra Costa
Unified School District

Don Gosney said...


I hope you take advantage of whatever mechanism is offered to let your prof know your feelings about sitting their listening to him talk as opposed to balancing lectures with discussions. That’s a valuable tool if the system utilizes it—especially if the students are honest.

If the class is set up for you to just sit there and listen to a lecture, you can do that from home and save everyone a bunch of bucks (and still be available to mow the lawns on Saturday morning).

One of the selling points for many of the AP courses is that if you score high enough you can get college credit for it and get out of some of the rudimentary classes once you start college. I’ve seen some students who started off their first day as a second semester sophomore because they filled their high school careers with AP courses.

Of course, there are pros and cons to this. From the standpoint of the student, I’m sure they want to avoid lower level classes that may seem redundant because they’ve already covered much of what’s being taught. On the other hand, there’s often a lot more thrown at a student in college classes than what they’re offered at the high school level—even in an AP class. I’m sure you can envision plenty more arguments on both sides of the question.

As you might imagine, many of the parents like the option of getting credits for those classes. Aide from the bragging rights on Saturday night at the country club, it often means that the parents can save mega bucks because they don’t have to pay for a semester or two of college.

What’s in the best interest of the student, though. I haven’t heard enough on this to convince me one way or the other.

By the way, like Mr. Ramsey, I value your input, Dennis. It's of great value to us. You seem to see things through the eyes of someone who has a greater understanding of what's going on around you.