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Karen Allendoerfer ravena at cco.caltech.edu
Mon Nov 17 15:17:45 EST 1997

In article <a-schmi-1711971157340001 at vortex5.life.uiuc.edu>,
aloisia schmid <a-schmi at uiuc.edu> wrote:
>I respect these opinions, but I disagree with them.  First of all, the
>people who did well of course get praised.

I'm glad you do this, Alice, I think it's great.  But my experience as
a student (and as an excellent student, I might add) has been that it
is hardly an "of course."  Praise and positive comments in structured
coursework are in rather short supply, in my opinion.  It may be all
the emphasis in modern education on "critical thought."  A political
science professor friend of mine was realizing recently that what he
had just done in a particular class was teach the students how to 
thoroughly trash some of the seminal papers in the field.  On his way 
home from the class, he thought something was out of balance--after all,
he had had the students read these papers because they were GOOD, not
because they were bad.  Yet, most of the class time had been devoted to
finding flaws in these papers, not pointing out what was good about them.

I am really grateful to the 
dozen or so excellent professors that I had, and to the ones who may not
have had excellent teaching skills (yet), but who still made the extra
effort.  I agree that "most" professors don't have a bad attitude.
On the other hand,
>                  Anyway, while it is worth asking how to improve teaching,
>my question is more painful for both sides.....how do we improve student

This question strikes me as more than a little self-serving, as do all the
complaints locating the problem solely in the students and asking how
"we" can "improve" them. 

I think that a teacher can do a lot to alleviate this problem by 
modelling a positive, respectful attitude him- or herself.

I'm not surprised that if a professor goes into a class expecting a bunch
of prima donnas, interested only in grades, the bottom line, and education
as product, that that is exactly what he or she gets.


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