August 21, 2005

Odds and Ends

And so I left California. There wasn't much more to it than that, really . . . Sunday was very relaxing. I sat around the house, tried my hand at painting (with questionable results), went to a drive-in theater to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory again (never been to one before, actually), etc. And then I went to board my plane in San Jose at the last possible second on Monday the 15th. We were delayed coming into Dallas due to whether and spent about 40 minutes circling over Wichita Falls. Scholl wanted to go to Waffle Shoppe after I got back, and I was game, so I went . . . and then Randy wanted to watch Six Feet Under, for which I was also game. So, all in all, it was ridiculously late when I finally went to sleep that night. Or morning.

Thus ended my grand time in California, and thus begun my hectic last few weeks before school started. A few highlights:

Wilson and I met with Dr. Hudson (new Vice President of Academic Affairs) and Dr. Coppinger (Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs and my Academic Advisor) to voice some of our concerns and suggestions regarding the LeTourneau's History Program. Our basic problems are threefold. First, we have two professors in the history department along with a certifiably insane adjunct who teaches one survey course. Dr. Johnson specializes in American history (but also covers political science and a few other things). Dr. Kubricht specializes in Russia and the Cold War (but also covers Western civilization and things like Constitutional Law). We don't have anyone who teaches upper-level courses dated before about 1700, which is sad.

Additionally, Dr. K will be leaving on sabbatical next spring, leaving history majors everywhere up the proverbial creek. Wilson and I will both lack one upper-level history course in our final semester. There are exactly two being offered, and we have each taken one of them. So, unless something is done, or we go elsewhere to transfer in credit, I will be taking American Constitutional Law with an adjunct professor (a subject which I have no interest in whatsoever at all) and Wilson will be taking Texas and the American West (he'd rather die).

Even beyond our personal complaints, survey history courses have shot well into overload every single semester for several semesters now, because we simply don't have enough faculty to teach everyone anymore . . . and the university continues to grow! It's madness! We consulted LeTourneau's 10-year plan, which I believe was drafted in 1999. It says that we ought to have 4 full-time faculty members by now, but we don't. Kinesiology, meanwhile, has nine out of a planned five professors. I feel hated on.

Our second problem involves a lack of exclusivity. Not to sound all snobbish, or anything, but I get really tired of sitting in, say, 19th Century Europe with someone who has never taken Western Civilization . . . or any other history course. The few history courses here that actually have prerequisites do not bother to enforce them, which means I'm in an upper-level class of 25 with 5 people who are actually interested in history. That sucks.

History courses right now don't even have an English comp requirement . . . which means that we get people who have never had to write a formal paper. And what this basically means in the end is that everyone suffers. The real history majors have the course dumbed down and don't learn as much. The poor techies flounder helplessly. The professors have to decide between flunking most of the class, or changing the way they teach. There are no history courses for history majors . . . the way every single other major has (bible, english, education, business, engineering, aviation . . . everyone but us . . . I'm feeling the hatred again).

And that brings me to the third point: courses we don't require. I feel like when I leave LeTourneau I will have received an education that was well-worth my time, and I feel this way for two reasons. Neither really has anything to do with being a history major. One reason is the excellent english faculty and classes, and the other is the invaluable supplement offered by specific Honors courses. After taking the Honors Historiography course last spring I feel more like a "real" history major than I ever have. It's a crime that we don't require a course like that of all our history students, but only offer it to a select group. No one should be allowed to seriously pursue history without that course.

Also, by virtue of incessant whining by Wilson and myself, we and a few other select history students have been given the opportunity to take an independent research seminar on American intellectual history. The course came about through a combination of Dr. K's clout and Dr. J's kindness (the university isn't, I understand, providing him with any additional compensation for offering this course to us). The idea for the course as I understand it is to give us a chance to take a course similar to the format of a grad school course (in addition to learning more about the particular topic in question). Courses introducing history students to proper methods of research, and preparing students for grad school, should also be required for history majors at LeTourneau . . . but, once again, it is offered in this case only to we few who have demanded it.

Anyway, that's a slightly jumbled overview of what we went to see Dr. Hudson about . . . The meeting went very well. Of course, I realize that I'm duplicating a lot of Wilson's post on this same topic, but I felt like writing it all out myself as well. Sorry if you already read it over there and are now bored to tears.

I also began my new job working at the LeTourneau library. It looks like, at least for now, I'll only be getting 10 hours a week, but I'll have over 30 hours in before school starts. So that'll be nice. So far I love the work. And, while it may look and sound like I and the other student workers at the library don't do much of anything, that's not strictly true. Working at the library is nice because you are allowed to read, do homework, or blog (furtive side-glance) if there is nothing else going on, but there is still plenty to do, I assure you. My favorite task is helping the people who call or approach the desk with research questions. You never know what they're going to ask next, and I enjoy the challenge of finding what they need . . . the lack of monotony alone puts it head and shoulders above most other jobs I've had.

Anyway, that's the bare bones of life at the moment. Everyone is trickling back into town now, and I don't expect to do much over the next week except work at the library, take care of odds and ends before the semester starts, and play computer games with the people who are here. But I think I'll save my summer summary post for later.

Posted by Jared at August 21, 2005 08:11 PM | TrackBack