Something strange happens every year, where my feeling switch from positive to negative (and vice versa) throughout the semester. Since some of these classes are not starting out well, I hope this principal will be true for the class I despise at the moment and not be true for the classes I am enjoying.
I like to think that I like math. I like the order in it: making the seeming chaos of the world into numbers that can be found and controlled. Signing up for this class, while still not something I wouldn't take if it weren't required, I was excited to take. In algebra that I had taken in middle school, I remembered really liking matrices, which is the premise of linear algebra at the elementary level. Unfortunately, I am not enjoying the class. It takes only takes a little inattention, and genericism is teaching style and a poorly designed curriculum to wet the excitement matches, damaging interest and throwing it all together in the other direction.
From the accent, which is often intelligible, to the handwriting, which is often illegible, to the weak explanation in initial instruction to not understanding the questions asked of him: I give his teaching a solid D at the moment.* He does respond to emails quickly, which I appreciate and he hasn't done anything to shame me in front of the class, which is why the performance is only a D.
Despite frequent communication errors due to English being a second language, what happens in class only loosely corresponds to what is in the required text book. I do realize that textbook choice is not the instructor, but of the course facilitator, but it does contribute to the challenge of the class existing outside of the material on which the course encompasses. At this point in the semester, the course receives a C overall.
* I completely sympathize with the difficulty of learning and especially speaking in front of a group, a language that is not a person first language. The language challenge does not mean that instructors with difficulty speaking the language spoken in the course are the best to teach the said course.
I have struggled with the language. With English, I spoke very early but read very late. It wasn't until 5th grade that I was up to grade level. I attribute this to my time homeschooling when both math and reading reduced me to a small wet puddle of tears. So instead I listen to hella audiobooks of the lives of composers, the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian myths, built pyramids and mummified chickens.
I have never understood language requirements after the age of 12. Proven time and time again that there is a dramatic reduction in the ability to form the synaptic connections that allow for language to stick. Of course, there are exceptions, and there is still some capacity to learn a language after the age of 12 meaningfully, but if it hasn't worked before college why would it work now? Or how would it make me a more rounded person?
If someone knows how why this is a requirement, please tell me. I am much better at doing something I don't want to do if there is a substantial reason: supported by scientific evidence and reasoning. I have found no basis for teaching language in college in either reason or science, but only in feelings. Feeling are nonsense, and not on what we should base our academic decisions.
DESIGN FOR CHANGE
I am excited about this class. It has the potential to be great. The one problem seems to be some of the students. There are a lot of people who wear hats inside (sorority girls with limited problem solving) individuals who don't know anything about design or had a passion for making waves. I care about this stuff, creating in a way to influence people, and I worry that these non-caring people will disrupt the flow and passion of the class through their apathy.
We've had some interesting and mildly thoughtful discussions, but they often seem stunted because of the type and volume of individuals in the class. I usually have opinions and am pretty vocal about these views, but it is hard for me to find a balance between contributing my voice to the discussion, and feeling like I am one of the only participants in the discussion.
The first project seems ironic because this is a design for change class, but the first project advocates for high volume printing of paper to communicate ideas. The project is to create "'Zine;" a printed mini information magazine with a message. For me, this is challenging to reconcile. I care about the environment, and avoid physical printed items when at all possible; all my books are audio or electronic, so are my note cards and all my class work. But how do you circulate such randomness in the electronic world? The 'zines are distributed in high traffic areas (like coffee shops or poster boards) that increase the interaction between a wider, and hopefully deeper audience: which I don't know how to do without paper waste effectively. So I still feel undecided. It seems like a .5 step forward, .25 step back. Opinions?
The other thing that gets me is the book. I've written more about the contents of the book in a post for the class, which I support in some ways and have issues with in others. But the physical book. Sure it printed on better paper. But printed?! Really? There are no e-books or audiobooks available whatsoever. Partially because I hate reading physical books and prefer the options and interface of an electronic book and partially because holy shit how much paper did that book contribute to the environment? It's a thick ass book. That's a lot of paper.
Over all, I am excited and hopeful and hope we get to spend more time in smaller groups for discussion, and I get valuable feedback to improve my performance as a designer.
I have the same comments for advanced typography. I am excited for the class overall, the projects seem interesting and through provoking, but worry that the apathy of other students will disrupt the flow of the course. Joel is a commanding force in the room more than the instructors for Design for Change, and I hope that will be enough to prevent the class from falling apart at the seams.
HIP HOP 2
Hip hop is hard. That's all. Rennie Harris, the instructor, called me out on the first day in a way that disrupted class and embarrassed me, because I made a small error, and I felt awful for the rest of class. But that is how my last hip hop class started, and I ended up liking the teacher and have continued to train with him since. So I am keeping my hopes up, practicing, and working hard in class.
WEB (web design)
I have long lamented the disconnect between programmers and designers, and web only affirms the breadth of this crevasse more than soothes my concern that coders don't know anything about design.
The skills we are learning are useful: I can code a straightforward page in HTML5 after two lab sessions and two lectures. But I did use the class site as examples in Advanced typography as high type crimes because the site looks awful.
I have learned more from the assigned videos than the instructors (the TA or the course facilitator that teaches the lecture), which is disappointing. I like to have a real person explain concepts and skills, rather than Lynda.com. I understand the limitations of classroom size and instructors, but when the course has massive wait lists semester after semester; however it would be appreciated if the classes were made smaller and teach more in the class lectures. Smaller class size and more teaching in that period would allow for questions to occur throughout the education, rather than an almost entirely self-guided course that also happens to have an in-person requirement.
In short, we are using useful skills, but I am frustrated by the lack of focus on aesthetics and usability demonstrated in the project of the course facilitator.
Transnational is great! Brain teasingly difficult to do muscle isolations in the body, but it I enjoy practicing it around the house; I try to walk around rolling my stomach, walking on the inline half point, and hip shimmying. I am disappointed that the web gets in the way of this class, but I am delighted I am a part of it.
INDEPENDENT STUDY / GRANT PROJECT
I feel like what I would guess a lion would feel like if it were in the zoo all its life suddenly got the freedom to roam in a city. I don't know what to do first! I've alway dreamed of this freedom, but now that I have it I feel choice paralyzed.
Letting ideas stew has been a great tool. I started thinking about this project about two years ago, but I got the resources to work on it in June. Then I started thinking a lot more, and every week, I feel like I am making small, but meaningful project physically (visualizing ideas, ordering and creating costumes), and making decisions about the plot of the piece, so I have a better structure on which to rely.
All in all, I am nervous, and getting myself ready for the chase. I have made a schedule for myself for the semester, which I intend to follow, but I think it might go differently than outlined. I have ordered a lot of supplies, but making for me comes in waves or periods. I bet I will get all the supplies, and then basically all the making will happen in a weekend, and then the coding in the next week.
I know people say that steady progress is the way to go, and I have been doing the steady growth. But now it is time to taper and bring the productivity to a max to produce the costumes, and once created, I have solid characters and people to write a story about.
COLLEGE CORE REQUIREMENTS
Who decides college core requirements? Why and how do they make these decisions?
When frustrated by having to take classes that seemed to have little relation to what I am interested and don't feel like they make me a more "rounded" academic. I did some surface research to see if there was a particular set of the reasoning behind the core requirements that seem pointless and unrelated to students as individuals and their field of study.
First, I do think that becoming a well-rounded person is an essential thing that not enough people care about, and I am not necessarily the person that these rules are made for. But the system doesn't seem to work for the majority of students that I interact with.
But most of the electives that I have taken to expand my knowledge in areas that I care about have not been listed under approved allectives or counted (without petitioning) towards my core or degree requirements. So how would follow the "accepted" elective and core classes had improved me when nothing on the list was whatsoever exciting to me? Also as I said in the Italian section of this post, this isn't the best time for us to learn a language, and my time would likely be better spent focusing on something I would be able to apply more directly to my life and careers.
So where do these requirements from? I still have no idea. And I still don't understand the reasoning used by the people with the power to make these decisions. If anyone has any information on this subject lmk 'cause I am bewildered and frustrated.
"It's just the way it is" isn't an answer, btw.
Thank you for listening to this all the way to the end. I respect the effort,