Comments on: In which Historiann throws her yellowed index cards from 1967 in the air in indignation http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 28 Sep 2014 10:58:43 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Modern graduate studies and the value of historiography : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/comment-page-1/#comment-174698 Wed, 07 Jan 2009 00:52:43 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=476#comment-174698 [...] had a discussion here last summer about “Centers for Teaching and Learning” and their implicit message that reading deeply and widely in one’s field is less [...]

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By: Assess this : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/comment-page-1/#comment-93492 Sat, 04 Oct 2008 13:47:42 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=476#comment-93492 [...] had quite an interesting conversation this summer about Centers for Teaching and Learning, and their evil twin timewaster, [...]

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/comment-page-1/#comment-52070 Sun, 10 Aug 2008 13:57:51 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=476#comment-52070 Well, I’m sorry that you were stuck in a class like that, HE. I suppose every professor we’ve had was an instructive example for those of us who went into higher ed: some offered examples worthy of emulation, while others were case studies in how not to run a classroom.

I wonder if we can get a cable show like “What Not to Wear,” called “How Not to Teach,” with expert teachers swooping in to offer assistance for the pedagogically challenged (as well as tips for sprucing up the classroom wardrobe)?

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By: The History Enthusiast http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/comment-page-1/#comment-52027 Sun, 10 Aug 2008 04:50:50 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=476#comment-52027 The_Myth: I’ve actually gotten that exact evaluation–”This is history class…”–a number of times, and I’ve only been teaching for a few years.

As for the old weathered notes, I agree with the main arguments in this post, but I did have that terrible professor who just pulled out notes and read them aloud so to me it isn’t a myth. It was all lecture, every day (a 4-day a week class) and there was absolutely no discussion. It was the worst class I took in undergrad, and it honestly turned me off to being a U.S. history professor (although I “saw the light” and did in fact go back to my first love). So, sadly, that person does exist. And he still teaches at my undergrad institution.

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By: Beth http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/comment-page-1/#comment-50699 Thu, 07 Aug 2008 17:56:26 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=476#comment-50699 Historiann–certainly, I agree with you on the importance of the meta-question, and potential perniciousness of the meta-answer. I also think teaching and learning centers are in part a product of the economics of higher education in the last ~30 years–something has to be done with all those excess Ph.D.s, and teaching and learning centers (and admin in general, I guess) are one place to put them. I sometimes wonder–in agreement with your post of 6.05 am–if we wouldn’t all be better off if universities were structured such that the people staffing teaching centers (who have, presumably, a strong interest in teaching well) were able to get jobs as professors in the disciplines in which they trained.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/comment-page-1/#comment-50663 Thu, 07 Aug 2008 16:15:04 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=476#comment-50663 I had an anthropology prof my freshman year who was awkward, mumbled, lost his place, looked gray and haggard, had an awful iron-burn on a white shirt that you could practically read the manufacturer’s name on, and it wasn’t just a one-day disaster. He wore it every week! It was truly uncomfortable to be there. But he said at least two things–one on physical anthropology, the other cultural–that I can recall to this day, and days of processing the points and whether or not I agreed with them. The same term I had a psychology instructor who was cooler than Carnaby Street (Beatlesque ref), still a grad student at Ohio State called in to replace the sick regular. We raved about his class, in fact it WAS a rave, though we didn’t have that terminology then. He wrote incredibly flattering things on a paper I did, almost suggested that I publish it. But I can’t recall anything that he actually said in class. If we’d had evaluations then, it’s easy to see who would have been buried and who praised, but fortunately we didn’t. Where’s the method and where the madness, then, in teaching? (BTW, I just checked my transcript, and the anthro guy gave me a C, while the psych-godhead issued an A, but I’m staying with the above, um, assessment!)

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/comment-page-1/#comment-50572 Thu, 07 Aug 2008 12:05:54 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=476#comment-50572 Paul–great rant!

The_Myth, I’m kind of surprised that so many commenters knew a prof like that, except that (as you point out in the example you cite) the notes served as a solid base that was rehearsed and then riffed on/added to. Some may have been embellished more and more regularly than others, but if your old prof was expected to deliver that series of lectures 6 times a year (implying that she at at minimum a 3-3 course load), what can anyone expect?

As many have pointed out here, and as Paul discusses over at his blog, CTLC workshops and clickers do not equal “good teaching for the 21st century” (and still less “assessment. Didn’t we used to call that “grades” back in the old days? Why the bureaucratic demands for more numbers moved around in different ways?) Lower teaching loads spread across more regular faculty is the way to go. Do they have CTLCs at Amherst, Haverford, Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, and Middlebury? My bet is that they offer high-quality education because of their low student-to-teacher ratios, and their fame precedes them (and they charge accordingly.) But, I’d love to know. (I don’t know if anyone at those places reads this blog–if you’re out there, please comment.)

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By: The_Myth http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/comment-page-1/#comment-50467 Thu, 07 Aug 2008 08:02:07 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=476#comment-50467 And can I say I am rather heartened that a few posters commented that sometimes those “old” lectures their profs used were often good ones. [At least that's the impression I got.]

One of my fave profs had essentially taught the same course for like 25 years when I became her TA. Over the years, she sometimes added a lecture, replaced a lecture, shifted lectures around. But, in the end, the same class had been taught the same way for decades. She had multiple copies of her lecture notes in a drawer in her desk she’d frantically scramble to pull out to practice before class. I always joked she should be able to wing-it since she gave the same lectures about 6 times a year.

And it was an awesome class! She would sometimes bring up new examples, or mention new research, but, in general, those same brilliant lectures she gave 15 years ago will be just as good now [in terms of content] since certain historical phenomena [like the development of ideas] don’t change [much].

But then, as a historian, I hope that’s not some heretical statement I just made on your blog! hehe

I just resent that whole mentality of new=better. Sometimes what worked for years still works now. Innovation can be good, but what does one do if the innovation is broken? Use the tried-and-true perhaps?

It’s like the pettiness I sometimes read about “deadwood faculty,” as if some of them haven’t earned a little rest before retirement. Old =/= obsolete.

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By: Paul Harvey http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/comment-page-1/#comment-50285 Thu, 07 Aug 2008 02:41:42 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=476#comment-50285 Historiann: Hooray for you. I’ve riffed a bit on your post, at http://usreligion.blogspot.com/2008/08/hooray-for-historiann-or-why-reading-in.html

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/08/04/in-which-historiann-throws-her-yellowed-index-cards-from-1967-in-the-air-in-indignation/comment-page-1/#comment-49972 Wed, 06 Aug 2008 20:13:30 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=476#comment-49972 Beth–thanks for stopping by to comment. I’m glad that you found your university’s CTLC useful–I’m sure that many are good resources for teachers. I just objected to the notion (in the linked article) that all liberal arts professors need to go to a “May college” workshop to learn how to teach “21st century students.” But, just as I righteously complained about painting all lib arts profs with a broad brush, I shouldn’t have suggested that all CTLCs were useless.

But, whether CTLCs are useless or entirely useful or something in-between, I was hoping to raise the all-important meta question: who wins and who loses when liberal arts professors are portrayed as being bad or clueless teachers who need constant retraining and monitoring? This frame, like other frames, seems to me to be a means for shaking public confidence in higher education, and thus a means for weakening public support for higher ed.

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