… why the thrill is gone.

… [M]ost of [my education here] revolves around manipulating the system to my advantage: learning the art of answering multiple choice questions, or when I can zone out during PowerPoint presentations. Discerning what the professor cares about and will probably put on the midterm, while ignoring the rest.

… I believe that the problem itself lies in the structure of Cal’s undergraduate program. Conducted in large auditoriums, much teaching is based mostly on lectures in which a professor simply transfers his or her ideas to the students. Even if you’re lucky enough to get into a good discussion section, there is still inadequate time allotted for student-generated discussions or ideas.

… Which has made me realize that, in the midst of heightened student activism and concern for California’s educational system, we need to expand the list of things that we are fighting for. That we should focus not only on budget cuts and the privatization of public education but on how we are educated as well: on our right to intellectual curiosity, critical thinking and the opportunity to pursue the passions that brought us to Berkeley in the first place…

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6 Responses to “As her freshman year ends, a Berkeley student wonders…”

  1. Cassandra Says:

    Gee, sounds like she’s realizing the UC system needs to hire more instructors (preferably full-time with real salaries) so they can conduct classes of a reasonable size.

    Of course, this will require California undergraduates to pay the same sort of tuition students in other parts of the country pay for higher ed.

  2. Bill Gleason Says:

    At the risk of getting my ass kicked once again-

    Many years ago, I had some great mob classes. Philosophy, constitutional law, English, and (gasp!) chemistry.

    These classes were taught by truly great lecturers and were on the “you must take x from y” class list at NU.

    At the junior/senior level I took much smaller classes from still exceptionally good teachers.

    What the hell is wrong with a system like this?

    Bill

  3. Christopher Vilmar Says:

    Bill, I’m with you on this one.

  4. jane Says:

    Professor Church. Renaissance and Reformation History. 1965. Brown U. All lecture, all the time. What a wonderful experience.

  5. An Says:

    Students bear some responsibility for this, too. I was able to take excellent, very small, classes at UC, by choosing carefully. This did require that I accept that the professor would be serious about teaching, and that students would be expected to be attentive – and to participate fully in class. This wasn’t necessarily the experience many of my fellow-travelers sought.

    That said, my only large-auditorium class was a superb Shakespeare course taught by a man who understood perfectly how to work the crowd. You can’t just hire instructors; you’ve got to hire good ones.

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    All true, An. I’d add that choosing the right classes is probably very difficult in a big school…

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