Comments on: Too many d00dly nutsacks: I want out. http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:08:09 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/comment-page-1/#comment-1084989 Thu, 06 Sep 2012 06:06:31 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19451#comment-1084989 Am I the only one to prefer large (albeit brick and mortar, face to face) universities?

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By: sophylou http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/comment-page-1/#comment-1084946 Thu, 06 Sep 2012 03:58:06 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19451#comment-1084946 @anothereph, interesting point. I have a friend who’s just started a year-long VAP at my SLAC alma mater, Carleton. I’ll have to ask if she’s among other VAPs. I don’t remember being taught by any contingent faculty (late 80s), other than one distinguished guest professor.

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By: Western Dave http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/comment-page-1/#comment-1084931 Thu, 06 Sep 2012 03:18:35 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19451#comment-1084931 At SLACs like Williams, VAPs are generally leave replacements.

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By: anothereph http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/comment-page-1/#comment-1084882 Thu, 06 Sep 2012 01:19:31 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19451#comment-1084882 I went to Williams and can only endorse the model of the SLAC, especially when it’s as well-funded as Williams is. But even at Williams, things are changing–a friend pointed out to me a year ago that more and more teaching there is being done not by tenure-track profs but by visiting profs, who I hope are being better treated than “pure” adjuncts, but are still the kind of contingent labor that a school like Williams (well, all colleges, but especially a school as rich and devoted to teaching as William is) should avoid. Here is the list of new faculty for 12-13, and VAPs seem to far outnumber (I assume tenure-track) Assistant Professors:

http://dean-faculty.williams.edu/2012-13-new-faculty-2/

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By: quixote http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/comment-page-1/#comment-1084789 Wed, 05 Sep 2012 21:37:54 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19451#comment-1084789 Well, just to add another scientist as a counterpoint to koshem. I don’t know what his field is. Mine is biology, and distance ed is fairly useless.

Yes, there are vast books’ full of facts to learn. But nobody except students of enormous aptitude manage to learn those facts well on their own. The context where they belong just doesn’t gel in most people’s minds without the guided handholding of a prof who can spot where the student’s problems lie.

Yes, there’s a great deal of skill involved. Pipetting, dissection, distinguishing a nerve from a strand of connective tissue, I can’t think of any skills used in biology that can be learned virtually. That’s why it’s a lab science.

Yes, solving problems is an important component, but I beg to differ that there is no creativity involved in that. I also differ in that it can’t be taught. Maybe not literally, but there is a great deal of ability students have that they don’t know they have. A teacher can help them to discover it if the teacher is on the spot to clear away mental obstacles as they show themselves.

For me, the bottom line is that non-teachers need to stop telling teachers how to do their jobs, whether online or off. It’s way more skilled than plumbing, and yet nobody argues with him about how to fix the faucet.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/comment-page-1/#comment-1084674 Wed, 05 Sep 2012 16:03:50 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19451#comment-1084674 A part of me would love, per Contingent Cassandra, to acknowledge at least in the abstract that some kinds of learning could appropriately happen on-line, given the right institutional commitments (a huge given) and given the evolution of a philosophical framework of the kind that might emerge from the “discussion” that she (and koshembos) hope to protect. The ultimate “distance learners,” after all, were the astronomers of Galilleo’s generation and after, were they not? But the larger part of me is cynical enough to think that the “distance borg” in the adminisphere is enough like the current Republican Party that any gestures toward broad-minded dialogue would quickly get one stamped as the pedagogical equivalent of “Another Democrat for Green Coal Energy.” And that one would thereby become another lubricant in the pipeline toward more “disruptive transformation,” because after all, “the cloud is our friend.” I think that the attack on the actual campus-defined university has a wide political agenda, one that goes well beyond the bounds of “Excellence Without Money.” And from that kind of a future I want out, so I’ll just stay with the old zero-sum essentialism that currently defines the “debate,” however regrettably.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/comment-page-1/#comment-1084660 Wed, 05 Sep 2012 15:28:31 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19451#comment-1084660 Thanks, Older Eph. This is right on:

To wit, it’s not that learning can’t occur online, it’s that that type of learning is radically different in form, goals, and outcomes.

And it’s not just OK for proffies like me to make invidious distinctions. It’s really up to us entirely if we want to preserve even a shred of this for students who can’t afford or otherwise will never make the pilgrimage to Williamstown.

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By: Older Eph http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/comment-page-1/#comment-1084655 Wed, 05 Sep 2012 15:14:45 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19451#comment-1084655 There’s no doubt that as a(nother) Williams grad, I’m apt to endorse Falk’s vision. Under the leadership of Frank Oakley, Williams instituted an Oxford-style tutorial program in which 2 students meet with a faculty member once a week, one student writes a paper, the other serves as a discussant. It was a small program that has been significantly enlarged over the years, and even back in ze olden days, it was a formative experience. There’s not much that can replace discussing and defending ideas in such a small setting, just as there’s little that can replace a faculty member telling a seminar that he will always be in the campus snack bar after class to continue discussions or shoot the sh*t.

It’s a very particular model of higher education that isn’t right for every student or every goal. Someone who wants to be a phlebotomist or mechanic or whatever may require technical training that needs to occur in a lab setting but other information can be conveyed adequately in large classes, in commuter sessions, and even online. Maybe accountants or actuaries can learn the necessary skills online or in large classes. But one hopes that simply skill-driven professions might also value creative thinking, problem solving, persuasive writing, and an ability to interact as humans, and those are less well developed online or in 300-person lectures. To wit, it’s not that learning can’t occur online, it’s that that type of learning is radically different in form, goals, and outcomes.

But if learning, education for democracy/citizenship, and thinking are privileged (in all senses of the word), there’s a lot to be said for the SLAC model, and I’m glad to see Adam Falk like Morty Schapiro before him (a physicist and an economist, respectively) defend it.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/comment-page-1/#comment-1084588 Wed, 05 Sep 2012 12:01:52 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19451#comment-1084588 Falk’s argument is about the kind of education that Williams offers. I don’t think there’s a problem in saying that online courses are inferior in some fields or disciplines, whereas they may be workable in others.

In spite of CC’s claims, I am dubious of the value of online ed in a lib arts education. I can see some cases in which a blended class (some in-class contact, some online only work) might work, but is the undergraduate education I’d want for my younger family members online? Hell no! If they decide to pursue a certificate or a master’s program online, then that’s their business–but a rigorous, solid undergrad education should be F2F, in person, and in the flesh.

I have no doubt that Contingent Cassandra is doing a great job within the broken system she must work. But how much better would she be as a teacher if she were Tenure Track Cassandra, in a real classroom with real, live students?

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By: koshembos http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/04/too-many-d00dly-nutsacks-i-want-out/comment-page-1/#comment-1084299 Tue, 04 Sep 2012 23:08:11 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19451#comment-1084299 As a non “liberal arts” teacher I feel excluded from a discussion I have something to say about from my perspective. First, we always knew that we teach skills. A lot of what we teach is either foundation or material that will be dated soon. We want the students to be able to understand and use material that will show up later.

Writing improves with writing. Critic of a written document can be done in writing. We are not involved in arguing at all. Solve problems is what we teach. Most people’s creativity level is low and is extremely difficult to improve. (Have no idea where Falk saw teaching of creativity.) Adapt and learn independently is exactly what skills do for you.

Bottom line: Falk’s statement starts a discussion, but it has to be vastly changed as the discussion continues.

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