Friday, September 11, 2009

What lights me on fire?

When I opened blogger to post earlier this evening, I didn't intend to rant for two hours about about a GE class. I wanted to tell you that I love geography. I think it is sublime. I love my professors, talking to them lights me on fire.

"This world is made up of regions and each region has its own personality, its own set of significant conditions. A Tibetan yak driver, an Egyptian fellah, an Uros fisherman, an Argentine hacendado, a Kansas farmer, a Peace River pioneer -- each lives in a world whose conditions and outlook are almost completely unlike the others. To apprehend those earth qualities, conditions, outlines, measured components, and interactions that enable us to look understandingly at man in relation to the pervasive elements of his complex regional environment -- these are the most distinctive as they are the culminating purposes of geographical research (1934:4)

from All Possible Worlds by Isaiah Bowman

Why do I have to-- ?

I have really been struggling with one of my classes this semester. We've only met for class three time so far, but it is driving me crazy. My poor teacher. She hopes that we are in the class because we want to learn more about the field of anthropology even though she knows that most of us are in it to fill a GE requirement. There is a good amount of participation in the discussions for the number of people in the class, so I hope some of my classmates are being are inspired and edified. It just isn't working for me.

I've ranted about the class several times in the past two weeks. I was frustrated to discover that a class I'd worked really hard to pass, and only taken to fill the university's Race and Ethnicity requirement, didn't count for anything but units. I had to register for Anthro 101: Cultural Diversity ASAP to jump through the hoop (after all, I'm trying to graduate here!).

I'm frustrated with the course content, which seems empty and circular compared to similar topics discussed in geography classes (see below*).

I'm frustrated by the presentation method (so far: a visceral movie that very clearly made it's point about a perceived problem in our society, and vague discussion management about topics I would rather discuss in a smaller or more controlled setting).

What makes the class worse is the absence, and the presence, of two geography classes:

My Anthropology class shares a day with my Climate class (a geography class), which was canceled on Tuesday because my Climate professor was on a furlough day. But my Anthropology professor has a different furlough day (you wouldn't believe how crazy this whole budget-cutting-furlough-day-thing is - especially for the teachers!). So I only had Anthropology and I was so bugged that I had to go to school and not get to go to my geography class. (I didn't mind sleeping in though...)

Then, today, I had my Seminar in Geographic Thought class. My course capstone. The class that proves I learned something about geography. My professor is a Human Geographer (meaning her specialty is human and cultural geography) so, of course, we tend to focus on the human side of geography in her lectures and discussions. As I was preparing my assignment for Seminar, I realized that the stuff I've been learning in various geography classes for the past three years (especially the human geography classes?) is the *same stuff we're vaguely talking about in Anthropology. Only more interesting! And more concrete.

Suddenly my internal self is screaming: "Why do I have to take this Anthro class? Why-- [hysterical 397 word rant removed for readers' sanity]"

Ahem. Short summary of the rant: I feel I have sufficient life and educational experience to meet the university's learning goal for me without having to jump through this particular hoop. I don't find value in the class. I would rather take something else that offers me greater depth of personal or career development.

Thank you. I feel so much calmer.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What to write about first....

Blog posts have been running around in my head for the past two weeks, but I haven't managed to force them to coalesce into anything concrete. I want to write about my Star Charts and my summer. Lost Boy and I did some political digging last week inspired by some initiatives that may (or may not) be on the ballot in the next California election. I've been having adventures on my bike (Oh! By the way, I got a bike this summer!) and have been feeling stronger and tireder. School started and things fell apart and are turning out how they're supposed to be. I'm bugged about taking a GE class (I probably should not write about that class, but I maybe I'll write about GE requirements). And people are getting married and having babies. Oh! And I figured out how to get a $40 textbook for $6 (University Library. Copier. 8.5"x14" paper. Two sided copies....)

Hmm. I think I have a lot to say. Maybe I better say it.