Some random thoughts inspired by yesterday’s conversation about Cheatergate at UCF yesterday and other trivial events:
- Liberal Arts majors are frequently subjected to the “but what will you DO with THAT degree?” question from parents, friends, and random busybodies. (History majors often get the derisive punchline of “Teach??” from the parents and busybodies, as though teaching were an undignified and completely unthinkable career.) But do parents and the general public understand that business majors at some universities are offered “senior-level” classes with 600 students in them? Speaking for my department only, our 100-level classes (still far too large IMHO) are capped at 123. We have no 200-level classes, nearly all of our upper-division (300-400 level) courses are capped at 44, and usually end up with fewer than 35 students if they require even a modest level of work on the students’ part. Our senior seminars are built around writing research papers and are capped 15. I’m not saying that any of these numbers is optimal–but my bet is that my department’s classes are classes in which faculty know students’ names and have time to talk to them (in class discussions and outside of class), design creative syllabi not focused around a damn textbook, give them constructive advice on their reading and writing, and focus on their development as students. In the end, which do you think offers the better education?
- I did a little research on the internets: my uni offers eight sections of “Strategic Management” (BUS 479) next semester that are capped at 50. However, there appear to be some senior-level topics courses (BUS 405A and 405B) that are capped at 90 and 100. And “Legal and Ethical Issues in Business” (BUS 205) is capped at 130!
- When I’m getting all Black-Helicoptery, I sometimes think that the Business College model of education is really what both universities and the general public would prefer. It’s a hell of a lot more “cost effective” to have one adjunct faculty instructor teach a class with 600 or even 100 students in it than it is to have me teach a total of 50-70 students per semester. (No wonder so many non-Liberal Arts faculty members don’t understand why we’re skeptical of online teaching. If your optimal model is a bricks-and-mortar classroom with a faculty:student ratio of 600:1, I suppose online courses look positively intimate and boutique.)
- Times are tough at universities, but somehow there’s always money for the Athletic Department, because trimming those budgets is unthinkable.
- WTF is it with the Christmas lights already? I’ve been running after dark lately, since it’s dark at 5 p.m. out here now, but seriously, people: turning on Christmas lights before Thanksgiving is ridiculous. I understand if people want to take advantage of warm weekends earlier in November or even in October to install the lights, but don’t flip the switch until Black Friday at the earliest, m’kay? That way, maybe you won’t be so sick of Christmas that you cut the lights and throw your tree in the street on December 26. January’s a long, dark, cold month–can’t we have a little Christmas cheer for at least the “Twelve Days of Christmas?”