Saturday, November 23, 2002

I have to say, I am losing faith in the educational system. I spent some time today looking over literature courses at some nearby colleges, in case I decide I have too much time this spring and want something to amuse myself with. Words can’t even begin to explain to you how disappointed I was.

One class’s webpage listed options for the class’s final paper. Among these options?

“Select a piece of literature and compare and contrast it to the movie version. Cite similarities and differences. Talk about things that were effective in the movie and things that worked for the book. Were some of these instances impossible to pull off in both realms? How so? Would the author be pleased or displeased with the movie version? Why or why not? Be specific.”

Oh, and it should be 6-10 pages. I kid you not. You don’t know how much I wish I was kidding. Six pages comparing a book and a movie, and they have a MONTH to do this in!!! Not a weekend! Not a day, but a MONTH! Being the non-college girl that I am, someone really needs to tell me here- is this sort of thing NORMAL? Have our standards for what is taught in college really dropped that low? What happened to actual learning? To challenging oneself? For the love of Shakespeare, this is depressing!

May I also ask why all of the classes that actually sound as if they would be worth showing up for are the ones with eighty prerequisites? Where is the love for the non-degree seeking chicklett who just wants to go study Shakespeare or British novelists for the fun of it, and does not have any desire to have to sit through (and pay for!) some mind-numbing class on how to write an essay just to qualify for the good classes?

One course catalog actually has notations under the writing classes that they are “writing intensive”. Because we could have never figured that part out.

I should also mention that I lost a lot of faith in our local universities due to those cable broadcast classes- the ones you can take via watching the shows and then showing up for exams. My personal favorite is the one on literature revolving around knights and quests and such, which I can’t remember the name of. I am baffled beyond belief how anyone could take such a fun topic and make it as utterly boring as they have managed. The teacher doesn’t seem excited about it at all, and punctuates his sentences by saying “Ummmmmmmmmmm” every third word or so. It saddens me so.

This is probably the point in this entry in which I need to tell you all just how much I love my high school English teacher Mrs. Logan. I had her for freshman English, she was one of the two teachers of my Humanities class my junior year, and was also my College Prep (heh, yeah, I know, we’ll get back to THAT) English teacher my senior year. Mrs. Logan was something like two feet tall and three inches wide (Okay, she may have hit five feet, but I wouldn’t put money on it), and walked faster than an third year med student. She had a language all her own, which we all learned and used to survive. For instance, “We’re going to have a little quizzie!” meant “Eight thousand point pop quiz now, start praying”. She was quirky in the best sort of way. The best part, however, was that she wasn’t afraid to expect us to have brains. I guess that her classes are a big reason why I’m so mystified with the papers I hear my college friends writing. We wrote 5 paragraph essays (a few pages) so often in Humanities that it became an art form. I can pop one of those puppies out in less than two hours, no problem. I guess we just did it because there was no other option. Research papers? I am the queen of procrastination there. My last two years of high school, the entire paper was done the weekend before it was due: The research, documentation, writing, everything. And yes, I always got good grades on them. Same situation with book reports- I’d read the book the day before the report was due, and write the paper that night. I think this says more about how I work better under pressure than spread out over time than it does about any sort of educational system though, so I digress.

One student, visiting from whichever university he was attending dropped in on our CP English class, and reported in all seriousness that “Mrs. Logan’s College Prep English is the hardest thing you will ever do in your life, unless you go to war.” Reading over these course descriptions, I’m starting to wonder if he was right.

I had so much more to say about the fantastic teachings of Mrs. Logan, how thanks to her I know Gatsby like the back of my hand, and other such tribute, but its now 3am, thanks to my tendency to get sidetracked so easily, and I’m just not on the same train of thought that I was when I started writing this.

In summary, I would very much appreciate it if someone could restore my faith in the educational system of this country. (Oh YEAH! That’s how this whole thing started! One of AOL’s headlines today was how people in the US knew nothing about geography. It made me think about how often you see things saying that Americans are basically stupid. We’re one of the few countries where being bilingual is a rarity instead of the norm, etc. That’s how we got on this rant) If you have college classes that are actually enlightening and challenging, please tell me so that I can stalk your professor, or at least have some faith.

And now, on a completely different note: Hi. I’m home from vacation, and although you may think otherwise, am in a mode of being completely brain dead. Once my brain actually starts functioning enough for me to be coherent, I’ll post about my lovely trip, and even share some photos. A full report is in the works, but I’m having to squeeze in getting it done while its still fresh in my brain with finishing up NaNoWriMo, so we’ll see how that goes. I also need to find a place to register a URL, and some web hosting, so if you have recommendations, please please please send them my way.

Finally, a quick shout-out to Television Without Pity for making up for my stupid VCR which failed to record a single one of the six shows I had it set to tape while I was gone. Thanks, TwoP! Also, if by some odd chance you happened to tape the last two episode of Gilmore Girls, or Dawson’s Creek from the 13th and would like to make me a very happy girl, let me know.

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