Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ten on tuesday : ten things I hate about school

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Actually I don't really hate school, so this is a little challenging for me.

1. Disorganised professors. (click on this picture to read about this absent minded prof!)

When I pay to go to school I want to learn. Trying to learn from someone who cannot remember what class they are teaching, or where the classroom is can be very frustrating. I WILL say that this has also turned to my advantage when one professor of mine came and told me he had lot my paper and so he would give me an "A" because it happened to him "all the time" and he could not fault me for it. I took that "A" grade and never did write the paper!

2. Overpriced text books.
Having to buy the newest edition of a text is annoying when there have been no revisions in the past ten years other than the color of the cover and the increase in price. The whole textbook "industry" is such a farce, people are making MEGA bucks by printing books over and over and charging ludicrous prices for them. Shouldn't the benefit really be to the student? By using new editions of texts professors also make it impossible for students to resell slightly used texts to others. BAH!

3. Group work.As long as I have been a student we have been required to work in groups. I have never liked it and I have never been in a class where group work was organised in such a way that the people doing the work got the credit. I have yet to work in a group where there isn't at least one person who does little to contribute and loves to share the grade. I think that in theory group work has a purpose, but to me it's a bit like socialism - It appears to have benefits on paper but has never been executed in real life to the benefit of all involved.

4. Grading systems
To decide what a student knows or does not know based on an exam where you have to memorize (then promptly forget) numbers, dates, names, etc. This system of scoring people really reflects in no way the real world where .. if you have a question you have an encyclopedia, google, and MANY other resources to find your answer. Shouldn't school be about teaching people to find answers - and relate those answers into their person experience so there is LEARNING instead of memorize mass quantities of information? (having said that I am pretty good at exams and they never bothered me, but I know MANY people who have such incredible test anxiety that a test does not reflect what they know, and the experience is, at least, disheartening and turns people off school completely.)

5. The "curve"

This is really an extension of #4. I have taken stats. I understand the curve. I know why it exists and I am STILL not convinced that anyone, ANYtime should be graded on the curve. I know grade inflation exists, and it is unfortunate.There are ways to control grade inflation that have a lot to do with professors and little to do with students. But if everyone in the class does equally well on an exam then there is no reason for some of those people to get a better grade - or worse grade than others.

6. Reading packets.

This is an extension of #3. Almost as bad as costly books are costly packets of photocopied articles which are never inexpensive. The quality of the copying is generally poor. The cost of finding a binder and the hassle of trying to sort through and organise everything is left up to students who aren't busy enough already. In my experience the professors who put these things together suffer from a problem the OPPOSITE of instructors who change their texts every term. These professors NEVER change the reading packet, and the stuff is horribly out of date or irrelevant. Trying to use any of these articles for a paper is virtually impossible because there is never the correct citation information included.

7. Classmates who like to talk - about anything BUT the topic at hand.

Really folks? That's what breaks are for. Take a break. Go out after class for coffee. But in the PRECIOUS limited time which I have to glean the MOST I can - can we keep on topic please? And quit talking while I am trying to listen to what is being said. (Don't assume because I am in the back row that I am not paying attention!)

8. Stupid questions.
"There's no such thing as a stupid question, only a stupid answer." You may have heard this and it is NOT TRUE. There are stupid questions. Now I know that whoever came up with this saying was inviting people who have a question about the topic but are too afraid to ask to ask the question and not be embarrassed. This is a good idea. I recommend it. I don't feel these kinds of questions are stupid. However, asking a question like "Do I have to take notes" in a master's degree course..... THIS people - is a stupid question.

9. Clothes shopping.

The whole notion of getting new clothing for school is something I veto. I hate clothing shopping at any time. Wearing a school uniform in elementary school was one of my all time favorite things. In addition to always knowing exactly what I was wearing to school, I never had to deal with issues of coolnesss, trendiness etc. Translation: I was not a complete nerd in the way I dressed until high school.

10. Public washrooms. Enough said.

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