Ah, Learning...

Saturday, September 20, 2008
After my incredibly crappy experience during my last college class, I was really looking forward to this semester. I'm taking "Nations, Cultures and Peoples," and it's being taught by the same professor who taught my most excellent "Law, Policy and Politics" class earlier this year.

I'm happy to report that I'm not disappointed. The work is challenging, the boards are active and the posts intelligent, the professor is engaged and demanding. Yay, higher education!

One thing I have noticed about my coursework at DU - if the course has required reading that centers around a specific textbook, the class has usually been mediocre to poor. If the required reading is a collection of essays, published articles and other eclectic material, the course has usually been good to outstanding. "Nations" is my ninth class in this program, and while nine is certainly not a statistical universe, I do see a trend.

Consider some of the reading sources from the last two weeks:

- Selected readings from the Global Policy Forum

- Selected readings from The Post-American World, by Fareed Zakaria

- Selected readings from Distant Mirrors: America as a Foreign Culture

- Selected readings from The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

Students are encouraged to discuss their own life experiences with globalization and living outside the U.S., and I'm pleased that I'm not the only one who has direct experience. If you think the conclusion of a specific reading is a big steaming pile of monkey poo, you're encouraged to say so, as long as you can back up your opinion. This is the reason I spend time going to classes when I don't really need to do so.

I really hope that my poor experience last semester was an aberration, and this is the norm.

6 comments:

mom in northern said...

You are going to enjoy the Zaharia, which I just finished, and the Friedman.

Has he posted "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond ? It is on my very tall 'to read' pile.

It came highly recomended.

Janiece Murphy said...

I haven't seen it on the syllabus, but there's sure enough to keep me busy...

John the Scientist said...

GG&S has some serious flaws - But I'm sure you'll figure it out when you read it. Prof. Dutch has a nice critique of one of its defects ,which I'll dig up for you.

Random Michelle K said...

If I'd know you wanted Guns, Germs & Steel, I'd have brought you my audio copy. It's on tapes though.

Jared Diamond came to WVU to give a talk a couple of years ago, and I have to admit that--shallow person that I am--I had a hard time concentrating on what he was saying, because he had the world's worst comb over that kept distracting me, and making me think things like, "Isn't he married? Does his wife not love him anymore?"

So I found him a little dry, but the subject matter was interesting. But there are several other people I'd rather see talk again before him. (Eric Schlosser for one. Bruce Feiler for two.)

And I'd give my eyeteeth (that are actually in a drawer somewhere in my parent's house) to see Karen Armstrong.

Jeri said...

Combovers. Eek! Definitely makes one lose respect for otherwise fabulous men.

Sounds like a GREAT class!

John the Scientist said...

Barcode haircuts! (That's what the Japanese call combovers).