Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rigor.


31 comments:

  1. Watering down like Niagara Falls during a thunderstorm.

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  2. Oh I don't know . . . an electrical engineering colleague once played "Make a Circuit With Me" by the Polecats as a quiz: (identify and write the symbols for the devices - COULD you make a circuit with them?)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYAQ7X2fk1M

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  3. Oh, I'll play music as students are entering or leaving class, though usually not in the middle of it (so don't give me no "watering down" comment, I'm not taking time away from course content). I tell them it's to set the tone for the learning experience I hope to create. And then I'll give them some Gregorian chant, Huun-Huur-Tu, Dead Kennedys, The Meters, Shetland Islands traditional fiddling, Metallica, Charles Mingus, or J. S. Bach's Die Kunst der Fuge. You know, pretty much the usual stuff.

    On exam days, I play 'em music to help them relax and get in the proper frame of mind to approach my exams -- say, the "Dies Irae" from Verdi's Requiem, "O Fortuna" from Orff's Carmina Burana, or maybe the "Imperial March" from Star Wars. Just trying to help 'em out.

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    1. Awesome. I play Mr Roboto on the very first day of my SF lit/film course. And on the day I talk about the pace of modern life in my comp course, I play Pat Benatar's Anxiety...keeps them awake, for sure.

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  4. I mentor about a dozen professors in my discipline. Officially, I write reports to our Dean about these professors and classes and have done it for about 5 years. Someone in a different division mentors me.

    It amounts to 6 days of class visits each year.

    In my limited experience, everyone of the "cool" profs who played music, TV shows, movies (outside of a real use) were obsessed with being liked by their students.

    They were also cookie-bringers, if you know what I mean.

    I like to be liked, too, but not by students. I don't actually think we should care so much about entertaining.

    I know some of you will say, Well, I have to get their attention. I understand that. But I do think this has all changed radically in the years I've been teaching, and I think it does water down our product, our results, and the resulting students.

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    1. Here's the thing: I don't play music with intent to entertain them. I don't play what I think they'll like. Hell, these days I mostly don't even know what they like, and what I hear of it doesn't appeal to me much.

      I play what amuses me -- which is pretty obscure to most of them. I mean, the Tuvan throat singing of Huun-Huur-Tu is a taste that few of today's college students have taken the trouble to acquire. Ditto for Gregorian chant, Shetland fiddling, Cajun dance tunes, Finnish metal-polka fusion, accordion-heavy alt-rock in obscure Norwegian dialect, or, well, any classical or jazz. (Strelnikov, I might experiment with _Metal Machine Music_ and let you know what happens.)

      I play what gets me revved. What they think about it is no concern of mine. (Occasionally it does help me make a connection with a student who might otherwise be hard to break through to -- who'll say "Wow, you've heard of Finntroll?" or something like that. But I don't pick my playlist with that in mind.)

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  5. These profs are contributing to a prolonged childhood.

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    1. American pop culture is a funhouse, encouraging the eternal 15-year-old; in a way it reminds me of B.R. Myers' view of North Korean propaganda in his book "The Cleanest Race."

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    2. "American pop culture is a funhouse, encouraging the eternal 15-year-old."

      Very well put. I remember a story in the 60's about elementary school teachers saying they had a tough time keeping their students' interest because they weren't as entertaining as the characters on Sesame Street.

      Once again, my generation (Baby Boomers) screwed things up by making things easier for children. More and more I realize that the brain *is* like a muscle. When a muscle is subjected to stress (work) it grows stronger. When it is not, it atrophies.

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    3. "Once again, my generation (Baby Boomers) screwed things up by making things easier for children."

      Well, you have to start simple, then build to the point where the kid is doing calculus in their head.

      I wish I could do calculus in my head.

      Or move objects with my mind.

      I watched too much Star Trek growing up....

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    4. "Star Trek"? Not "Sandmännchen "??

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  6. I'm mostly with Kimmie. They don't pay me enough (or give me enough free time)to be a dj as well as a proffie, and that's not where my talents lie anyway. I'm not much of an entertainer, and I don't aspire to be, but I'm a pretty good proffie. If they follow my carefully-crafted, detailed instructions (writing of which *is* my forte), and do some independent thinking of their own (the tough part, I know), they *will* learn something about writing in their disciplines, and get better at it.

    But if another professor enjoys picking songs, and can incorporate them into class *without* watering things down, then I say more power to him/her. Just don't expect me to do it, or suggest that it might raise my eval #s (it might, but that just demonstrates that at least some of what evals measure isn't pedagogically relevant).

    I also like dr. beowulf's approach, which seems likely to introduce pretty much every student to something (s)he hasn't heard before (and probably wouldn't have listened to on hir own). There's a significant difference between using the minutes just before and after class to pander to students' existing tastes, and using it to expand their cultural horizons.

    That said, I just don't have the time or energy.

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  7. Fine, I showed the trailer for Into Darkness. The title is symbolic for the course and where the little darlings will be in a month.

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  8. Am I the only one who thinks Cathy B's prof is starting a courting ritual?

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    1. Yeah, that one seems a little skeevy.

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  9. You play Metal Machine Music, just the lock groove at the end, and that'll wake them up in the morning class.

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  10. I tell my kids the course will be rollicking great fun... as long as they like Hamsterology. I'm told I'm fun to watch and that my lectures are entertaining, but that's just because I'm a little weird and hyperactive, not because I'm adding entertainment content to the lectures. In the last period before the final in one class, I showed an episode of "Penn&Teller's Bullshit" that was relevant to what we'd been discussing in class, but that's it. It was the first time I'd prepped that class, and we wound up getting through the material faster than I thought we would, so there was a day "open."

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  11. I play youtube videos as the kids are walking in. I play the music *I* like (hello Stone Roses!), and anything that *I* find funny (hello Tay Zonday cover of Call Me Maybe). If the kids like it too, then that's fine, if they don't then I don't care as I'm doing it for my own benefit; I crack up in stitches with louis ck's stuff, particularly his parenting material, but I'm not career-suicidal enough to play it in class.

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    1. On the last day of my comp class, I played the clip of Louis ck on late Night with Conan..."Everything's amazing, and nobody's happy...." It rather neatly encapsulates the theme for my course.

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    2. "Everything's amazing, and nobody's happy" needs to be played every day and all the time for everyone.

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  12. I play audio clips from David Sedaris stories occasionally. I'm not considered cool, but the two smart kids in the class think I'm funny by proxy. I can't imagine having to link music to my lectures on a regular basis because it would mean hauling speakers and my iPod into the classroom regularly. My textbooks are giant anthologies that make today's phonebooks feel impotent...

    What I teach is so interdisciplinary, I could find songs to fit every lesson, but making it relevant and something that helped students to master material better would be a stretch. I just don't see how the songs would do anything other than take up 3 minutes of class time. I would find it more relevant to have students create their own songs to memorize material. The only time I've purposefully used music in class is when the chapter for an Education class I once taught was: "Incorporating music into the ESL classroom."

    Oh, no, I lie. In grad school, when I was a TA, we were REQUIRED to pick a theme song for our classes and use that to motivate students by blaring it at the beginning of every class. "I will Survive" seemed to suffice as a theme for me back then.

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  13. I hate the pandering profs, and the students. When I was an undergraduate, my favourite profs were the ones who taught me interesting stuff about their subject area. Whatever happened to that?

    YES, I AM OFFICIALLY AN OLD FART.

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    1. I was an undergrad during the 1970s. Had my profs resorted to such methods as part of the lecture, I would have been insulted. I went to university to learn something. Entertainment I could get elsewhere, often free of charge.

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    2. I was an undergrad in the late 80s and agree completely. I went to university to learn, and expected a torrent of actual knowledge, not music (unless it was a music class maybe but I didn't take those)

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    3. When I was an undergrad, there was a corner of the students union building of my alma mater which I found quite interesting. Part of it was a music listening room where students could borrow LPs (yup, it was that long ago!) and a set of headphones, and listen to them. The remainder was a small art gallery and I recall going there to look at what was on display.

      Years later, when I returned for my second master's degree in the early '90s, both the music room and gallery were in the process of being replaced by a food court. I guess during that time, they had fallen into disuse and someone then decided to make better use of that space.

      I believe one reason for the change was that, by then, the mallrat generation had graduated from high school and had gone to university. Putting a food court there would make their campus "experience" less traumatic because they would be in an environment they would have grown up with.

      I guess the days in which one went to university to see something different and have new (and presumably wonderful) experiences have long gone. It's no longer a way station on the road to adulthood.

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    4. "I guess the days in which one went to university to see something different and have new (and presumably wonderful) experiences have long gone. It's no longer a way station on the road to adulthood."

      Adulthood is no longer a destination.

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  14. In my case, "Homey don't play that" applies. Literally and figuratively.

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  15. I like to put up an overhead of a piece of literary text, and begin with everyone working together to mark it up, opa close reading style.

    Color me old and farty too. But I get good evals, mostly.

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  16. This raises for me an interesting question about "entertainment as teaching." When I started teaching, I always had two or three days over the course of the term where I showed relevant documentaries to break up the days of discussion and lecturing because everyone needs a "break" once in a while and the films usually generated good discussion. But now...most of the documentaries I show can be found online (YouTube, Netflix, etc.) so I'm starting to think showing these is really a waste of time, whereas once upon a time, when these items were less easy to come by...not so much.

    I often hear students say, "oh, I've seen that before," further adding fuel to the idea I should stop showing them. Ironically, the documentaries I hear this about least? PBS programs. :(

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  17. Oh yes...yet again, some profs try to use popular culture to engage their students and the Monday morning quarterback snobs of this web-site chime in with cries of lack of vigor.

    Based on the "twits" of undergrads.

    You know, the people we bitch about daily.

    The ones who often don't know how to study, or read, or write, or pay attention, or follow instructions.

    As if their commentary on pedagogy is always and already accurate.

    But, that's right... as long as they give YOU high evaluations, that means their opinions are valid.

    Uh-huh.

    I'll re-iterate the little tibit some forget when they kvetch here:

    If you aren't in some other prof's classroom, you don't really know what's going on. None of us do.

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    1. Yikes. I think we're just having a little fun with this.

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