Archive for January 14th, 2010

It is one of the simultaneous curses and amusements about student evaluations that handwriting is memorable.  So it’s not terribly hard to recall the students who, say, sat silent through much of the semester and then complain that I lectured too much.  Or the one who declared at the beginning of the course that he expected the class to provide an easier route to a higher GPA than a more traditonal distribution requirement, and was disappointed to discover it was not, by a long shot: taking simple quizes would have been preferable to difficult readings and having to think in public.  Or the fine citizen who had nothing to say each time I asked the class if they were getting what they needed from a particular evening’s discussion — was there something they wanted covered in addition, or did they want to suggest a new angle to pursue? — and then kvetched at great length about how I brought up “random” topics and didn’t have a set goal for every class session.

I’m not the ideal teacher for every student. I know that every time I walk into a classroom.  Still, the majority of my evals are great, and there are students whose comments result in useful changes to my syllabi: for them I’m grateful.  Another good moment:  as I marched out of Commencement a while back, one of my former students called out to say hello, waving her very-well-earned Honors diploma.

But I’m still not sure what to make of comments that suggest books of philosophy can go stale.  It was pretty clear from student performance that all the concepts were blazingly brand spanking new to them.

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