Classes I'm Taking [Fall 2003]

  • Italian 101 - Elementary Italian (4 credits) - I'm really glad I took Italian in high school before taking this class. It moved so much faster than we did in high school. I think we covered 3/4 of what I learned in 4 years in one semester.
  • Anthropology 103 - Introduction to Human Evolution (3 credits) - A very good class. I learned a lot, AND it wasn't hard - awesome combination. The professor had a geat voice for lecturing, too.
  • Mathematics 126 - Mathematics II (4 credits) - A post-calculus class, including calculus review. Definitely the best math teacher I've ever had. He was a grad student working on his PhD (probably defending in the spring), and I'm pretty sure he's not planning on teaching after he gets his degree. It's really a shame because not enough actual professors care as much about their students as he did. Also, math teachers writing actual words on the board instead of just numbers (which make no sense when you go back over your notes) is seriously the best thing ever.
  • Sages 100 - First Seminar: Life of the Mind (4 credits) - SAGES is a special program; this is basically my English class. The only difference is that class sizes are limited to 15, we develop a writing portfolio, and senior year we have a special project. What a waste of time. We learned nothing and my writing skills haven't improved at all. It might have been worth it if the professor didn't waste all of the class time talking about himself. Ah, well, I did meet my college best friend in this class.
  • Physical Education Requirement - (0 credits) Personal Safety Awareness (1st half of the semester) and Badminton (2nd half of the semester) - Uh, not much to say here. It was gym. The least physical gym classes I could get into. I was happy. I may not be able to take an acting class for gym credit like some people (*cough* AJ *cough*), but all we did was watch movies in Personal Safety Awareness, which was sweet. And badminton? You barely have to move if you play it right (well... wrong, actually... but right for my purposes).
Author Comments: 

First semester at college. I'm completely undecided about my major, but I'm pretty sure it will be something in the humanities.

Now with course evaluations!

How is you Sages class going? It sounds like a class *I'd* like to take...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Thanks for asking. I was really excited about the program when it began, especially since my school is more science-oriented and I expect to study something in the humanities. It's not exactly what I expected, though.

The class is very discussion oriented, which I like, but I feel really uncomfortable at times because there is very little diversity in the class. My high school was over 50 percent African American, and there's only one Hispanic girl in my class. Everyone else is white, and most of the people are from the same area. I feel like the discussions are one-sided because most of the people have similar backgrounds.

I'm not too happy with the professor, either. He's kind of really pretentious. He lives in an extremely wealthy neighborhood near the school called Shaker Heights. The other day in class we were talking about parental involvement in a child's education, and with all seriousness he said, "Even in Shaker Heights we have problems getting all parents involved in the schools. We say that those people are from Shaker Heights, but they are not of Shaker Heights."

The program is a really great idea and it will probably improve when it is expanded to the entire freshmen class in 2 years. This is only the second year of the program. My other classes are going well, though. My human evolution professor is a great lecturer, and I'm really enjoying that class. Sorry the response was so long; I'm sure you didn't want all of those details!

No, I actually did want all those great details!

While I am a pathetic college dropout, I am actually around academia quite a bit, so I am not too shocked that your professor is pretentious. I am a bit surprised he is *that* obnoxiously so! He really said that?

Class diversity is often a problem at college. The good news is that even if the racial and cultural mix is wanting, most of the students will go through some major changes in the next year or two. So hopefully, soon, they'll be bringing more variety to the table. Maybe not, but probably.

Do you mind if I ask what (generally) material (subject and / or authors/works) the class is covering?


I'm about 'evolutioned' out right now. I find the study very interesting, but nearly every science and history book I have been reading lately begin with (at least) two chapters covering the exact same discoveries and theories, and I could probably recite most fossil record - geological period match ups in my sleep! I wish I could just skip the chapters, but something inside just won't let me. :)

Oh well... I'm glad to hear your classes are going well. Good luck!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

L -
Here's a list of the books we're reading this semester.
An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks
Past to Present: Ideas That Changed Our World, Stuart and Terry Hirschberg
Magic, Science, Religion, and the Scope of Rationality, Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah
Local Knowledge, Clifford Geertz
Conversations With Ogotemmeli, Marcel Griaule
A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock, Evelyn Fox Keller

By the way, my dad dropped out of college after about a month. He went back after he got married and after my sister and I were born. Now he's finishing up his dissertation and is about to get a PhD. Of course it's much harder to do with a family, but I think that makes it even more admirable. Meh, I'm sure people have told you plenty of stories like this and I'm sure you know you could go back to school if you wanted to, so I'll stop. ;-)

Good to finally catch up around here. Isabel hit me pretty hard, and I haven't had power since Thursday afternoon.

Anyway, lbangs, I apologize for prying, and I completely understand if you don't want to talk about it, but do you mind if I ask why / how you dropped out of college?

Glad to hear you survived the storm! No power since Thursday? Yuch!

You're certainly not prying. The first college I went to was incredibly expensive; I had a decent scholarship, but after two years (and two increases in price), I finally had to give up there. I switched to a college where I had a free ride, but since they basically accepted no credit from my previous college (which was a rather experimental college - Hampshire College in MA), I was quickly bored by my classes. Additionally, it was a Baptist college, and well, that just turned out to be a poor fit for me. I left after a year.

I did, however, meet my wife at that last college, so it was hardly a wasted year (even though it felt like it at the time, since my wife and I didn't really get together until after I left, but that's another long (but happy) story...).

Perhaps I'll return some future date. I'm afraid I can't see into my crystal ball that clearly right now!

I hope all is well and Isabel hasn't left her mark too deeply there!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Wow, I haven't read a single one of those, though I have thumbed through the Hirschberg book. If you feel the urge, I'd be curious to read your thoughts on the books after you finish them.

I very well may return to college when my wife completes the PhD program here. Since she is aiming to be a professor, and since that requires us to be rather mobile as soon as she finishes up, it is pretty hard to plan too much past that point. At least the chances are very good that we'll be near a college at that stage, so we'll see...

Thanks for the list and the encouraging words.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

L Bangs, I don't know if you're still interested, but I commented on some of these books here on a list of books I've read for school.

Ah, I'm digging the course evaluations!

I envy you with your Italian; it is the most beautiful language I've heard. Alas, foreign languages are tough for me. I can learn to read them without too much undue difficulty, but I have absolutely no aptitude for speaking them. I would have been lost in Paris without my wife (well, that, and the fact that the French were much more willing to help me than their reputation led me to believe they would be).

I hate to hear about your Sages class. Too bad. It sounded like it had so much potential. Truth is, though, friends are much more important than classes, so all was certainly not lost.

I'm glad you dug the anthropology class, and hey, now you know how to keep your person safe, so the next hundred years won't be all entirely luck like the first 19 or so. :)

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Thanks, L. But, geez, based on the movies we watched, I hope I don't live another hundred years. The elderly people in the movies we watched learned that the best way to defend themselves was to either carry a whistle and hope someone would hear it and come to their rescue, or basically lie on the ground and hope their attacker would leave!

As for Sages... I think I just got a bad professor. I'm actually really excited about my Sages seminar for next semester (it's listed here).

Italian's one of my favorite languages as well, but I just finished watching Lagaan and I was struck my how beautiful Hindi is to the ear (well, it might have been Bhojpuri in spots - the IMDb lists both as languages used in the movie). I'd never noticed it before, but it may be my new favorite-sounding language.

The Pimsleur language programs are supposed to be fantastic for beginning to acquire spoken skills. I also have a tin ear for languages, but I've tried the first few French lessons, and they're terrific. One of these days I'm going to clear my schedule enough that I can do all 30 half-hour lessons in a row, one per day. Unfortunately they're pricey, but sometimes libraries carry them, or they can be had from mail-order audiobook rental shops. The ethics of buying them, recording them, and then reselling the originals on eBay is left as an exercise for the reader. :-)

Believe it or not, I'm jealous of the badminton class. I love that sport (or game, depending on how you play it).