I'm meeting with my Intro to College Life freshmen* for the first time tomorrow. Well, we met for a hot second last week, but since the mandatory presentation in the Big Auditorium took up 35 of the 50 minutes of class, and then I had to find my students in the crowd, we didn't really have time to say much to each other.
Anyway, I have been reading over the syllabus and now I kind of want to shoot it. There is a half-page-long list of Course Goals and Learning Objectives**, including such items as "Students will clarify their values about cultural and gender diversity" and "Students will manage finances, time, and stress effectively" (is clarifying values like clarifying butter? and has there ever been an eighteen-year-old in the entire history of the world who has managed finances, time, and stress effectively?) Good God. I hope they don't think I wrote this stuff.
The course is described as "a series of freshman seminars focusing on a variety of topics," although in fact more than half of the meetings are being held in the Big Auditorium with speakers who talk at the entire freshman class for fifty minutes and show powerpoints. Which kind of makes me think the person who wrote the course description doesn't know what a seminar is.
But! The rest of the class meetings are mine, and I think we can dispatch the official topic for tomorrow's session ("Navigating College Online") in about five minutes, which leaves us loads of time to talk about why we have college and about enlightenment. (Why yes, I did sneak some actual reading assignments onto the syllabus.) And maybe the students will get to, you know, say stuff, as should happen in a seminar.
I feel so subversive. Don't tell the administrators.
* Freshwomen, actually, since all five of them are female. This isn't particularly unusual given Misnomer U's demographics, but I do wonder if it's a sign that we're having trouble recruiting men to the humanities.
** What is with the fad for including Learning Objectives on everything, anyway? Do students actually want them? Do any of them read that part of the syllabus? For whose benefit is this supposed to be?