Thursday, January 29, 2004

Critical Mass

So I went to talk to the Dean today about my office. I just wanted to remind her that I am in temporary quarters. She seemed adequately reminded of that. She hopes to get me an office in Boyer, which would be closer to my classrooms, though further from the parking lot. I don't think that is going to happen any time soon, but if she can extend the lease of my current office that would be nice. I would like to move the previous owner's stuff out, and some of my stuff in.
But, then she brought up my sword of damacles, the critical thinking program.
Ironically, this was something I was pretty exicted about when I was first hired. Of course, then the idea was proposed by Jim D. who would be in charge. He has since left the school, presumably because he was pretty fed up with the system. Now it is all in my lap.
Sadly there are some problems... (big surprise)

Do you remember that Simpsons episode where the Itchy and Scratchy people invite the kids to do some marketing research. The kids end up wanting some very contradictory things: fantastic/realistic, zany/down to earth, clever/silly, etc.. They end up with that Poochie character.

What is the relevance of all this Steve, you ask.
Well, I've been asked to produce a Critical Thinking Program, that... offers students individualized attention, will develop their writing and reasoning abilities, will not cost any more money, may need to be a half credit class, and can cover the entire Freshman class. Any changes to the curriculum must meet approval of the entire faculty, and if possible I should be including 'mixed processes' which apparantly means using the internet and things like that. Sigh.

I really do think we need a program. But I don't feel like I have the tools I need. I really need some money, and some staff. With five or ten adjuncts I could probably pull this off well.

A dozen students per class (we had an incoming class of 600, so 50 sections? no way)
A full semester three credit class.
A text that focuses on case studies and readings, rather than baby logic.
A cheap text.
Lots of writing assignments.
Some meta-critical thinking (thinking about "critical thinking")

Reality? Well, I can't really expect all those adjuncts.


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