Thursday, May 24, 2012

Multi-tasking, obviously, is not my thing

My intensive two-week Shakespeare class has just ended. And like last year, I'm torn between thinking that this is the wost schedule EVAH--four hours a day! five days a week! A new play virtually every day!--and thinking that, just maybe, this is how college should be: just twelve to fifteen students, all taking only one class at a time, with a professor teaching only one class at a time. The schedule is simultaneously brutal and leisurely, and while I dislike the brutality for obvious reasons, the leisure (four to six hours of class time on every play is a real gift, when you're used to barely three) and the focus that comes from that leisure is delightful.

So I'd get rid of the every-day part. But if all college classes met for four hours a day, two days a week, and each class lasted for five or six weeks--and we kept the small class size and the one-class-at-a-time thing for both students and instructors? That might just be heaven.


Concord Fowling Pieces said...

Yeah, I've got a few friends who went to Cornell College in Iowa and absolutely loved it (and another friend's daughter is headed to Colorado College).

My only question is whether the shortened time period affects the digestion of the material for later access. But that's a question that, presumably, has answers.

At Yale-in-London, we had four courses over a full semester, but meeting in one 2-hour seminar per day, with the same students (and the two English courses taught by the same instructor). That intimacy, and the absence of the typical frenetic pace definitely helped my learning. I did my best work in college in those classes, and still have great recall of information from at least three of the them (my stuart history is, alas, fading).

Flavia said...

CFP: I too have some doubts about retention in a two-week class; certainly, I found that I was totally unable to remember (a) the names or anything about the students who took my class last summer, or (b) anything I did during those class sessions (which of course I didn't write down).

But that might be instructor fatigue (and the natural fuzziness that accompanies teaching more or less the same course every semester for six years); I myself learned and retained a huge amount in the two week-long master classes I took in graduate school. So I think a four or six week course would be ideal.

(And really, do you need to recall Stuart history? Can't your spouse just act as your external memory drive on that one?)