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Susan Fine's Comments

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Power Struggle Between the CollegeBoard and Top Independent Schools Burdens Students With Overwhelming Workloads

Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 16:09:04 in Education

“And I just thought of something else: When I did take one of the big British Lit survey courses, sophomore year of college (the "Wulf to Woolf" class), the professors rotated through, each one lecturing only in his/her area of speciality. While I know that they were all familiar with all parts of the course, they were experts only in certain areas. I say this as the business of academia if about becoming an expert in a very specific area. My college class suggests that professors wouldn't have wanted to teach all parts of the class themselves. Yes, students need the big picture and a kind of historical understanding of how literary eras evolved and developed and built on each other, but there are big questions to ask about whether survey courses are effective -- can students even keep up with the reading assigned? Do those sorts of classes, given the huge amount of content covered, encourage the use of Spark Notes and the like? How well do they, in fact, accomplish their goals? It's also interesting to note that the AP English tests don't require a set curriculum but do require excellent analytical reading and writing skills.”
huffingtonpost entry

Power Struggle Between the CollegeBoard and Top Independent Schools Burdens Students With Overwhelming Workloads

Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 10:21:44 in Education

“What might also be important to note is that (ironically) the courses that the independent schools offer are more like college courses. Sure, there are survey courses in college, but often college courses are more like the seminars, focused on narrow areas of history of literature (for example), that independent schools frequently offer. It might be worthwhile to do some investigating of, let's say, a college introductory biology curriculum and see how it compares to the AP Bio curriculum. It's probably also worth noting that there is now a growing list of indep schools (and public, e.g. Scarsdale) who have phased out some of their AP courses -- mostly in an effort to focus on depth over breadth and to teach the invaluable critical thinking skills that such a shift will allow for.”

Susan Fine on Aug 14, 2011 at 16:09:04

“And I just thought of something else: When I did take one of the big British Lit survey courses, sophomore year of college (the "Wulf to Woolf" class), the professors rotated through, each one lecturing only in his/her area of speciality. While I know that they were all familiar with all parts of the course, they were experts only in certain areas. I say this as the business of academia if about becoming an expert in a very specific area. My college class suggests that professors wouldn't have wanted to teach all parts of the class themselves. Yes, students need the big picture and a kind of historical understanding of how literary eras evolved and developed and built on each other, but there are big questions to ask about whether survey courses are effective -- can students even keep up with the reading assigned? Do those sorts of classes, given the huge amount of content covered, encourage the use of Spark Notes and the like? How well do they, in fact, accomplish their goals? It's also interesting to note that the AP English tests don't require a set curriculum but do require excellent analytical reading and writing skills.”