Doing the reading (was: Best Books 2002)

hallieod at hallieod at
Thu Jan 9 04:09:48 EST 2003


>I also have a few good friends at Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, and 
>various other top campuses doing anything from bachelor's through 
>doctoral studies.  All employ the same method, primarily because 
>there's no physical way to get through the amount of reading that is 
>typically assigned to students at our schools.  (Average reading 
>load per week at Berkeley with a full standard courseload is 3,000 
>pages.  I don't know about you, but I read at high speed, have been 
>literate since before age two, have a photographic memory, and *I* 
>could never manage to pull that off.)

3,000 pages per *week*???  That's insane!  How on earth is anyone 
supposed to think about what they've read, even if they could manage 
to read it?  And why set a reading load no one can realistically cope 

I'm sort of in the middle of this discussion - first time around 
(B.Sc. years and years ago), no lecturers gave a tinker's what we 
did.  You read or not, and it all came out in end of the year exam. 
This time (mid-way through OU lit. degree) you read or not, and 
better back up *anything* you say in an essay with page refs to both 
text and critical essays or else.  And then the exam...  <shudders> 
But there was a student who actually asked the tutor (not mine) if it 
was possible to write an essay on the narrative method in 
_Middlemarch_ from watching the BBC telly version.  On the other 
hand, our tutor this year rarely had anything helpful to say, 
regularly went off onto long lectures about such matters as why we 
weren't allowed use "I" in our essays (ok the first time, but could 
have been said in 1 minute - certainly didn't require 10-15 minutes 
and many repetitions), and told us something flat out wrong in the 
exam revision which could have seriously damaged people's exam 
performance.  General opinion was that she was seriously hung-over.

Nobody has given the obvious F&H quote yet, so here it is:  "After 
her tutorial, which went better than Polly felt she deserved..."



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