T Nation

Has Anyone Taken this Class?


#1

I have to take a class called fundamentals of physical education to be eligible to transfer to a four year school and get a degree in exercise science. So far we've learned about the origin of physical education, what shaped the way the field is today, and the philosophy of it.

I was just wondering if anyone has taken a class like this and where it lies on the continuum of relative usefulness because it seems like useless bullshit to me.


#2

Sounds like the mandatory appreciation of art 101 that everyone everywhere has to take. So, I guess on the continuum scale it would be at the very, very bottom.


#3

I will say this again, if the student learns nothing from a course that is the fault of the student. This material may appear overly basic but you, as a future trainer/whatever may be required to explain the same ideas to individuals with no background in this. You should see what works, what doesn't in the class and think about how you might explain it to others. There is so much more to education, especially at the college level, then being able to pass a test and forget the information later.

You never know what will be useful later. So you might as well pay attention and learn all you can now.


#4

I don't. Then again, I am not going to a school that offers philosophy degrees.


#5

I beg to differ on this point. I'm an undergrad student in a server administration class. The professor has his PhD in Information Technology and is paid $90k a year. The very first day it was apparent that he didn't know anything other than some very vague ideas about the subject matter. Going into the class I had only had some previous experience doing server administration as an intern. I ended up teaching the class some days, resolving issues with people's servers others, and doing general maintenance for the class every day. I'm not a TA, I'm not qualified, I'm far less knowledgeable than I assume someone with a PhD(in IT) should have been, and I was not paid.

I'm on my final semester and I can tell you that most of my learning happened in 2 semesters, the other 8 semesters were a waste of time and money for the piece of paper. If I were to revise what you said, I would say, pay attention if it's going to be useful and the rest of the time pick up a book. You are responsible for your own education, college is just a money making machine that goes up in costs while it decreases in value.

/rant


#6

I agree with the increase in cost part. I have no idea about the value. I won't know until I'm out and have a job. Some things are probably more useful than others.

I was sitting at an intersection today. A girl with three friends in her car ran a red light flew over the median and rolled her car. The car stopped maybe 30 feet from where I was waiting at a light. She didn't have a seat belt on. I saw her fly around the cabin of her car. Luckily she wasn't ejected.

I wish I had studied my first aid class to the point that I would have been confident in my ability and knowledge to give first aid in that life or death situation. First Aid is one class I should have tried to retain the information from.

I haven't flipped through the whole book for the fundamentals of physical education class, but there is a little bit of information that may actually come in handy. The scope of the class seems to be quite broad.


#7

My friend has a degree in exercise physiology and while he didn't have to take it, he knows some people who did. He says that people who bomb the English proficiency test have to take this one to make sure they even belong in a college-level physical education setting at all.


#8

Your response does not differ from my quote and my statement is far from unique. Steve Jobs mentioned that a class in calligraphy was instrumental in his appreciation in design.

Anyway, it looked like you learned or at least practiced leadership and teaching skills. You may not have liked the class but you did learn something from it, and that is my point. Education is about much more than just facts from a book.


#9

Very good point, some of the most valuable things you learn in college are a byproduct of the actual curriculum. Learning to lead, communicate effectively and articulate my thoughts is more valuable to me now than 95% of the things I learned in a textbook.


#10

That's definitely a good point. I did appreciate the chance to lead the class but the circumstances were ridiculous.


#11

Don't worry, life tends to provide ridiculous circumstances in spades. Considered yourself prepared, at least for some of them.


#12

So would you agree that the rising cost of education is very well balanced by most college/universities rising standards of excellence? Not in my experience and the experience of most of my friends who have recently graduated. I saw my university at best appealing to the lowest common denominator. I did not feel in anyway challenged (I know I should be challenging myself right...), and consistently felt like my intelligence was being insulted by the low expectations of my professors/school administrators. Now I'm not saying that I didn't learn anything, but rarely it was because my school was purposefully teaching me things. When I did find a professor interested in pushing his students to exceed expectations, they would admit to me in private how let down by the current state of things they were. Also, students always dropped their classes first. It's not even necessarily the schools fault, but when kids are lazy and don't care and deserve F's, the professors can't just sit back and fail tons of students. Their hands seem pretty tied, and they are quickly forced to appeal to the lowest denominator. One of my friends was a 3/4's professor who taught an English 101 class at my school. She failed a senior majoring in criminal justice, and then next year had him back in a graduate level class she was teaching. He failed English101, somehow still got his degree, applied to the same school's grad program and was accepted??? She said the very first day he struggled to identify which word in a sentence was the noun...

I believe you're a prof. yourself, that's why I'm asking. (I think there is a question somewhere in that block of text)


#13

I will try to answer this by speaking to some trends in the university setting in no particular order.

1) Loss of state funding means universities and colleges are responsible to find the vast majority of their money. Some of this is from students, some of this is through research grants.

2) Universities have moved more towards a business model approach rather than one more education centered. Why? See item 1.

3) Students, i.e. consumers, are demanding more experience with their education. This means universities and colleges are spending a ton of money on extras like fancy dorm rooms, workout facilities, and other facilities and programs that add to the experience of the student but not to their education. This stuff is expensive.

4) Beyond student tuition and fees another revenue source is from research grants. Professors are now being hired and fired based on how much money their research can and does bring into the university. For example, I have seen a range from 15% to 50% of research grant money going to the university, not towards the actual research. What this means is an excellent teacher is worth less to a university or college than a mediocre one who gets large research grants.

5) The increased demand on the professors to produce, research articles and grant money, limits the time the professors are able to spend on teaching. The professors I have seen who are able to be very productive as far of research and teaching at top universities often do not have families. I can speak of my experience at a couple top departments in my field where the idea of having kids, or the professors who did have kids, where treated with some blatant contempt - because kids took away from time they SHOULD be spending doing research.

There has been some efforts by different universities to try and quantify the importance of teaching, often looking at number of students taught by a professor per semester. While I agree teaching should be more greatly emphasized at universities, this matrix is not without flaws. Upper level courses have fewer students, for one.

5a) As a result, the use of adjunct facility and grad students are teaching more and more courses. This is not without issue. For students, they are encouraged to prioritize their own research over teaching. while this makes sense for the students success it further encourages and minimization of teaching and prioritization of research for new faculty.

Adjunct faculty are paid (quite poorly) by the class and often very undeserved in preparation time and materials. Most adjuncts either have to teach a very high course load (I have seen some teaching 6 courses and several different universities/colleges - more than two a place will generally not be allowed because then the faculty would be full-time and deserve benefits) just to make less than most school teachers. For the majority it seems, a full-time job + teaching is what pays the bills. You can probably gather that while there may be a real desire to teach the time to do all that is necessary to make a great class is often thin.

6) There has developed a culture across universities and colleges in the US of a passive student, one that sits and expects to be told without real active participation in the class. Some blame this on standardized testing - teach to the test rather that teach kids to learn, a real struggle in the primary grades since so much, and it appears more, are tied to what the kids do one day of the year. It is very hard work to get students to participate. I think beyond the academic culture students learn in primary school is the idea that college is an experience rather than an education.

7) A push by business that students learn particular skills (i.e. training) rather than get a broad education. This is tough. If the schools move toward the training model, students may learn the skills for a particular job but are out of luck if that job, or range of jobs, are not available. A broad education is supposed to prepare the students to be able to succeeded at just about any job because of; knowledge over a range of fields, development of communication skills, but perhaps the most important but generally over looked, the ability to learn, think critically and creatively, and find solutions independently and in groups to different sorts of problems.

That is about a brief an answer I can give.


#14

What university is this? My university requires all of its students to pass a writing test junior year. If they don't pass, they're required to take two more writing classes in addition to two writing in the major studies. The school also has a 2.0 minimum gpa requirement, so failing a bunch of these classes would result in dismissal. I'm a science major, but the instructors make it pretty clear that they're grading a certain percentage on grammar.

Regarding the OP, my gender studies class (anthropology 316) was a complete waste of time. It could have been cool, but the instructor moved through the material at a snail's pace (one slide per 20 minutes of class), obviously had an agenda against men that made the class uncomfortable, and taught us incorrect terminology. I'm also sure she didn't read a word I wrote after my first paper in that class. I didn't realize how useless she truly was until I started biology of women (biology 307). In the first week of that class, we learned more than I did all semester in the gender studies course.


#15

^ Students at the university I teach at are required to take a certain number of writing intensive classes for graduation. My class way exceeds the requirements of being a writing intensive class; I structure it the way I do so that students get proficient at communicating others and their ideas. I really wish students were required to write more. Considering my explanation above, grading writing is very time intensive, time often more 'productive' doing something else.

Edited for clarity


#16

Thank you for posting this. This sums up everything I hate about college and wish I knew prior to going. The only exception is point number 3. I love my gym. 12 plat forms, 8 dedicated squat racks and 12 multipurpose racks.

It's true, from my experience, that the most knowledgeable teachers and the one's you want to take, are paid the least but care the most about the students. I'm in charge of one of our many student organization and I've made it our main goal to hold more professors who do research accountable. As a student I've only head about a small handful of research projects that are being conducted with my tuition dollars. That research is not the product I thought I was paying for, but as long as it's happening I better be getting some value out of it. I've gone to the top of our school for support and am in the process of providing these professors a venue where they can share their findings and be held accountable for the work that students never see. This is not a solution to the problems listed above but it at least adds a little more value to school.


#17

I would like to see teaching rewarded more but please remember that the professors you are considering to put under closer scrutiny are under pressure to produce research, no matter how bad or ridiculous sounding. There was a time where tenure was a means of allowing academics to pursue ideas that were not popular and some of this has lead to great things (I have no examples, I am just assuming here and I am sure there is plenty of fluff as well).

I would like to see teaching based tenure lines and research based lines. Issue of pay is a big issue with this, that and the possibility of of switching lines/priorities.


#18

Also, bear in mind how the act of "teaching" is denigrated in US society. How teacher and schools fail kids, how teachers make too much money, how teacher unions are a bane to society, how college is just for the elite or how it does not teach anything useful, etc. All of that is also in play and supports the notion that teaching is not the important part of an academics work.

I loved college and wanted to be an academic until I saw how the sausage is ground up and made. I think teaching is very important so I focus on that, that and try getting a job in something else when your background is in teaching. Because hell, everyone can do that - you just read the textbook to the kids (see comments directly above).


#19

I understand what you are saying. I'm inclined to agree with it too. The way I look at it though is, I'm paying the bills so I get the most attention, everything else is second to producing the best possible students. I'd also like to make one thing clear in case that comes across as too much. I didn't start my process by holding the grunt professors accountable. I went straight to the Dean and Associate Deans who I'm assuming are the one's applying pressure for more focus on research. Correct me if I'm wrong though...

I definitely point the finger at the professors whenever I complain about this, but I know it's because they are the ones on the front line and who I deal with on a daily basis. I will not attack them individually, unless they are a complete waste of resources for BOTH the students and the university.


#20

There are 'bad' professors. The Dean probably knows who they are.

Remember that the university is who employs the professor, not the students.

I would encourage you to get to know the system where you are a student. Try to speak to the Dean's office in a more general way, not pointed (like pointing fingers). And try to speak for the good of the students, not yourself or your major. If the Dean's office can see you as more of a partner than a problem you can get more done in the long haul.