It's a 103-tastrophe!

Egad. C'lucci sent a review sheet to the classlist for the exam tomorrow with almost no supporting documentation.

(1) It's not clear whether the short answers will come directly from this list (which seems unlikely since "IR Theories" is on the list), which is not to say that the students are going to stop asking questions like, "Could you tell me how I'd write a short answer about 'decision-making'?"

(2) There are terms on the list that were not in lecture and are not from the book, but are so vague that we're pretty sure they have some meaning in his head ("Divisions of Power" for example). A few of us were in the TA office at the same time after lecture yesterday and decided on consistent answers, even though they may be wrong ones.

(3) The documentation that was included told the students that their short answers needed to include a "time context". Don't get me wrong - I'm all for grounding theory in reality, but these students needed a better lecturer in order to be able to do this. They don't have any idea what good a theory is for, and that you can't just say that the US-Vietnam conflict was an example of realism or liberalism or constructivism or one of the theories that he made up. It's like asking students to give an historical example of rationality, or asking whether the Cold War ended because of optimism or pessimism. Apparently the review session last night was a little contentious thanks to this.

These students are going to be in so much trouble when they try to take more advanced IR classes. Fortunately, the IR faculty consists of one guy at the moment, and he's acutely aware of the problem. It's been the most frustrating TA experience I've ever had.

1 comment:

Juan Dixon's Number 1 Fan said...

There are going to be at least two big problems that come from this. First, there are, I think, going to be massive complaints by the students - id's with no meaning, and neither in lecture nor the reading? - and my hunch is that they will, if previous instances like this are good predictors, go higher than the C-daphile.

Second, it's potentially going to come back and bite you ta's in the ass - this, I think, is the kind of thing you'd all do well to document for two more reasons - one, it's the kind of thing that can be noted in a TA letter; two, you want to stay out of trouble.

Of all the things I've heard about this guy, this is probably the worst - syllabi are contracts, and unless you tell the students on day one, Hey, I might ask you about things that aren't in lecture or the readings, you're fucking up.