Friday, November 30, 2012

Latine Cantemus

Dr. Edith Foster's Latin class will be singing Latin Christmas Carols in Mishler House (third floor of Andrews Hall) on Wednesday, December 5th at 9:15am. Please join us if you can.  Bonus, actually, double bonus: some German carols will also be sung and there will be donuts.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Are Students Conservatives (at least in class)?

That students are "old school" about what happens in the classroom is one interesting apparent finding in a large study done recently in Quebec. According to a survey of 15,000 undergraduate students and more than 2,500 instructors,

University students prefer the “old school” approach of an engaging lecture over the use of the latest technological bells and whistles in the classroom. That was a finding in a recent study of the perceptions of students and professors in Quebec on the use of information and communications technologies, or ICTs, in higher learning.
“Students are old school – they want lectures. They want to listen to a professor who’s engaging, who’s intellectually stimulating and who delivers the content to them,” says Vivek Venkatesh, associate dean of academic programs and development in the school of graduate studies at Concordia University. 
Dr. Venkatesh says this goes against much of what he hears at professional development workshops that stress interactive learning strategies, often using technology.
See a longer story here (with a link to the whole study). 

Why Learn a Foreign Language?

The Department of History and Political Science is the only Department at AU (outside the Foreign Language Department, of course) that requires its majors to study a foreign language. There are many reasons for this requirement, but here are some of them:    

  1. It’s just better to know a second language.
  2. It’s a job skill: employers recognize – and often reward – competence in a second language.
  3. Language study is good exercise for your memory.
  4. With a second language you will be able to converse with Dr. Paddags in a language other than English.
  5. It’s useful when travelling.
  6. An eminent scholar once told a class I was taking, “You can’t be a competent student of political philosophy unless you know Greek.”
  7. You will be able to read what was actually written in foreign books and historical sources, not something filtered by a translator.
  8. Language study can help you to separate ideas from the words in which they are expressed (which helps you think more clearly).
  9. Emulate the American Founders, many of whom knew French, Latin, and often Greek
  10. Learn that the pluperfect subjunctive passive is a real thing.
  11. Studying the grammar of a foreign language may improve your logic (which helps you think more clearly) and your English, both written and spoken.   
  12. Foreign language study helps you understand the categories of your own thinking (which, again, helps you think more clearly). 

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Useful Liberal Arts

William G. Durden is another in a long string of very successful people to attribute a successful career to a liberal arts education, in this case, one that included courses in political science.  Now president of Dickinson College, Mr. Durden has been, among other things, a military officer, the founder of an athletic team, a senior consultant to the U.S. Department of State, and a corporate officer at two publicly traded companies. Here is what he says at Inside Higher Ed: 

I gained competency through independent reading, experience and observation. I appreciated that the breadth of knowledge and the depth of cognitive skill that my undergraduate courses in social science, political science, art and science prepared me for any field of professional pursuit. I was prepared for professional chance.  I knew how to ask the right questions, how to gather information, how to make informed decisions, how to see connections among disparate areas of knowledge, how to see what others might miss, how to learn quickly the basics of a profession, how to discern pertinent information from that which is false or misleading, how to judge good, helpful people from those who wish you ill. All of this I gathered in a useful liberal education — in and out of the classroom — and in an intense residential life where experimentation with citizenship and social responsibility were guiding principles.

Read the rest of his article a

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Another Defense of the Liberal Arts

Vivek Ranadive, one of those super successful computing entrepreneurs, argues in Forbes that "A Liberal Arts Degree is More Valuable Than Learning Any Trade."  One proof: the market cap of Apple beats the market cap of Microsoft. And, as a bonus, Paul Cohen critiques Lawrence Summers, the former President of Harvard University, who earlier this year argued that it is a waste of time for English speakers to learn a foreign language.  See here..

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Senior Teaching Experience

Henry Wessel (Integrated Social Studies, 2013) is doing his senior teaching experience at Sangaree Middle School in Goose Creek, Berkeley County SC. He's teaching seventh grade world history, and says he loves it. (And who wouldn't, in a place with that name?)  Teachers in training at Ashland University spend a whole semester in the classroom in their senior year, as well as a significant block of time in their junior year.  Note the discreet allusions to AU on Henry's water bottle and lanyard.