Monday, September 28, 2009

Young Adult Wasteland: School is now in session

I came across a snippet in while reading Freakonomics a few months I could not resist sharing with JohnnyMac. JohnnyMac is a University of Georgia alum.

Freakonomics references a college course called "Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball" and included a portion of the final exam. Of the twenty total questions on the final, two included were How many halves are in a college basketball game as well as How many points does a three-point shot count for during a game. Various other similarly advanced level brainteasers rounded out the remainder of the exam. The class was offered at U. of Georgia and taught by Jim Harrick, Jr., the son of the basketball coach at the time, Jim Harrick, Sr.

The class was comprised primarly of student athletes. Oh, and everyone got an A.

Perhaps my surprise is ill founded. I went to a school in which the only "blow off" class I could take was "Human Sexuality". This class had a wait list and while I knew it would potentially reflect poorly on my transcripts as they would be submitted to law schools across the nation, I had to take it, didn't I? And it wasn't necessarily easy but oh, the homework.

But I promise you we didn't take exams with options like Identify slang terms for the hoo ha. Our professor actually expected us to learn something. So while this class may not have shouted erudite, it did have components of value.

But the History of Basketball with elementary level questions on exams? Ridiculous. Do other colleges and universities actually offer such? Well school is back in session. AND OH, indeed they do. Thanks to some easy research, a flip through Cal Berkeley's fall class schedule, and some insight from Mental Floss and OnlineColleges.net, I found more than I wanted to know. Its a long list.

According to a study done by Phyllis Schlafly, in 1914 most universities and colleges were in sesson 50 days more per year than now. And at that time, all colleges and universities required writing and composition. How many require it now? 12%. Same with Math.

Colleges and universities are not requiring math and language arts? Are you serious? Is that why a young lady working at a retail store could not count my change back to me when her system went down. She could mentally subtract 11.77 from the $20 I gave her? What is this?
Young Adult Wasteland.Duplications of Jeff Spicoli.

Please advise how the following will prepare anyone for an actual job. These are actual college/university course offerings:

Oprah Winfrey: The Tycoon (U of Illinois at Champagne)

Zombies in Popular Culture (Columbia College: Chicago)

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll in Ancient Egypt (Johns Hopkins)

Science of Superheros: (UC Irvine)

Joy of Garbage (Santa Clara U)

The Simpsons and Philosophy (Cal Berkeley)

Getting Dressed (Princeton) By the way, you are at PRINCETON for *@&^@! sake. Do you need a class on how to get dressed?

Arguing with Judge Judy (Cal Berkeley)

Elvish: The language from Lord of the Rings (U of Wisconsin-Madison)

Philosophy of The Matrix movie (Ohio State)

Life and Times of Lil' Kim (Syracuse U). * STOP IT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY.

Cyberporn and Society (State University of New York at Buffalo)

Daytime Soaps: Family and Social Roles (U of Wisconsin)

Philosophy of The Watchmen comics (U of Alabama)

Naked or Nude (U of Chicago) *Replenishing the porn/stripper industry are we, U of Chicago?

Hypertext, Internet Writing (Vanderbilt)

Mail Order Brides, Understanding the Phillipines (Johns Hopkins)

The Phallus (Occidental College)

Sex, Drugs, Salt, Coal (Cornell)

Learning from YouTube (Pitzer College)

Joe Paterno, A Study (Penn State) * oh, you MUST be joking. A study about the Football Coach? Who is still there? Hope everyone likes him.

Porn, Blasephmy, Proganda (U of Melbourne)

Politics in Bruce Springsteen's Lyrics (State University of New York Potsdam)

The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie (Occidental College: LA)

Vampires, Blood and Empire (U of Pittsburgh)

Changing Times, Music and Lyrics of Bob Dylan (Willamette)

Underwater Basket Weaving (NOT KIDDING): UC San Diego

Science of Harry Potter (Frostburg State)

Beer Appreciation (North Dakota State)

Alien Sex (U of Rochester) *For the love of all things holy, University of Rochester. What is wrong with you?

Monsters (Western Washington U)

Madness, Sexuality and Subversion in Victorian Literature (U of Edinburgh. Which also teaches a course on Fairies. )

Philosophy of South Park (U of Delaware)

Art of Walking (Centre College)

Myth and Science Fiction: The Matrix, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings (Centre College)

The Future is LOST: A seminar on TV show as cultural phenomen (Tufts)

The Far Side Entomology: A study of the cartoon series (Oregon State)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, A Study (U of Maine in Farmington)

History of the Dirty Picture (Rhode Island College of Design)

Philosophy and Star Trek (Georgetown)


Wow...and to think all I got was lousy Sex Education.

87 comments:

Dustjacket Attic said...

I find that really depressing, it's a sad refection on our society... where to next.
xoxo

jinksy said...

Doesn't this list begin to make you feel like a genius in comparison?!

Vodka Logic said...

As a science major in college I took cermaics .... got a C wtf.

Some of those clases are hysterical but shoot me before I have to take one about Oprah.

Laoch of Chicago said...

I tend to agree with you, of course in a general sense, though I guess I would argue that any course, and in your list those particularly which dealt with philosophical issues can be quite valuable. Learning to think, argue and reason seems useful to me, regardless of the issues covered as they are transferable.

Matthew said...

Shouldn't we just let Buffy The Vampire Slayer die the death it so richly deserved?

I heard about some poly in the UK offering a course in Beckham Studies. Rumour was it that you'd get an 'A' if you started every answer with "y'know".

My name is PJ. said...

I have a rather harsh opinion of the entire education system in the United States: it's been severely 'dumbed down.' When I compare European students at any level, from grade school through University, to students in the United States - our entire country looks and sounds as though it were third world educated. I could go on and on, but this is only a comment section and not a post section. Excellent post, JM!

I've done a post on breast cancer awareness this morning that I'd like you and others to read. It's a bit of an eye opener.....

Hit 40 said...

You have brought up a topic that really pisses me off!!! Colleges are just out to cash in on the fact that everyone thinks a degree is important no matter the quality of it. Some universities do not care about the quality because they want students to stay in class and to pay for more classes.

College was easier than high school for me. I guess it would also depend a little on your major. For example, engineering and architecture got a little rough for some.

Anyway.... it is very true that you do not even have to take math for many majors. I have a tough time saying to high school kids how important math is when I know that many will not have to take it in college.

And... I am tired of the pressure to up the bar for high school students with testing after testing from the government. Why no federal college tests??? There are a few tests like the bar or medical exam.... but I am just saying.

mbkatc230 said...

Ok, that does it, I want to go to college. NOT. If I saw these courses on Cait's transcript after writing tuition checks for 4 years I would be beside myself! I'm sure (she said hopefully) that at least a few of these are valid courses with funny course names to stimulate interest. Right? But to not require math or language arts? Unbelievable. Kathy

Buckeroomama said...

Wow. Some people actually go into debt to get a university education? Bet they didn't know that this was what they might be "learning."

Simone said...

"The Life and Times of Lil Kim".....if it was anyone else than you JennyMac, I would think this was a joke....sadly not.....and yes, you can take "Beckham Studies" at some Uni or other in the UK......RIDICULOUS!!!! Stop this insanity now!

Great post JennyMac, even if it did make me want to bang my head on the wall :)

mo.stoneskin said...

Over here there is a weird situation. We need a degree (you a) struggle to get jobs, b) struggle to get rises and c) struggle to get promotions) without one, yet we have to get into a huge amount of debt to get a degree and ultimately we, I mean I, just crammed for exams meaning I don't feel I learned anything at university, it was just part of the natural progression.

Mandy's Life After 30 said...

What do these "professors" who teach these courses do for their research on these subject matters? That is what I would like to know.

For instance, "Joy of Garbage" (Santa Clara U) - does the instructor watch Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street for his lesson plans?

And what about "Art of Walking" (Centre College) - does this professor study groups of babies, toddlers and then visit prostitutes on the streets for the various styles and art form that walking apparently possess?

I could go on but why bother? All I know is that I hope to enroll back in college soon. I'm ready to get my Masters in Bull Shit and Pop Culture. LOL!

MG said...

I can actually understand the Naked vs Nude class, as in Art there is a whole discusion if the model is naked or nude. However, if that is not an Art class, then I don't know what to say. The rest of them, what are they thinking?

kyslp said...

It seems like most of that could be learned at home with the aid of Google, Wikipedia, and Entertainment Weekly.

This is only going to get worse as time goes on and more of the geniuses graduate and (inspired by their higher learning experiences) become college professors.

It is no wonder that so many foreign countries hate us.

Heavenly Housewife said...

Yeah, when we are all in old age homes these geniuses are going to be taking care of us lol.

Cee said...

I'm going to slightly disagree with you here...I was a broadcasting major and took a bunch of film classes including History of Horror films. It was seriously one of the best classes I have ever taken. It wasn't science or math but it was enjoyable and I learned a lot.

To me college is all about your personal interests and having a chance to study things you actually like so a couple of these seemingly pointless classes mixed in with other requirements could go a long way in enhancing a person's college experience.

That being said...some of those names are really hilarious.

A Year on the Grill said...

I don't have time to write a comment, I am working on my home study course in beer appreciation

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Holy crap. There's some serious classes on that list. I mean The Philosophy of South Park and Alien Sex? Give me a combo on those two!

I was thinking of going back to school, guess this list gives me the encouragement to do it after the offerings of classes like that.

And no writing and math? I'm all for the no math (I HATE math but that's just me) but no writing? WTH? Don't they know that people will blog one day?

The Savage said...

I forgot but some university teaches Klingon as a foreign language.
We, as Americans, ofttimes wonder why is it we have no major standing in the education department....

Soon there is going to be The Science of Blog Verification Words....

Jeney said...

I did take some interesting classes in my day...

Queer Theory, Theory of Female Beauty, Social Media Studies (we actually held class in Second Life in this one), Women in Crime. The list really does go on.

However, none of them were blow-offs. They were just electives to my majors and minors :-)

Scrappy Girl said...

I think alien sex was the weirdest on the list...by far.

ellen abbott said...

I hear ya. When our culture started to look down it's collective nose at blue collar workers and trade schools became the last resort of the inept and only people with college degrees had any value...well, here's the result. and I knew as soon as they let calculators in grade school that no one would be able to do even fundamental math in their heads. And look. I was right!

No wonder the US is getting tromped in math and science.

Michael Rivers said...

I've been out of college for 12 years. One of my best friends is just finishing up. When I hear some of the courses he's taking I just raise an eyebrow.

Many of the things on your list are relevant to society, have an impact and probably serve for some very interesting lectures. But an entire college course? Crazy!

Mommy Lisa said...

Okay, so apparently my online University is better? I have a math requirement and a language/composition requirement.

I am back in school for the second time because I just didn't know what I wanted when I was in my early twenties. I was a Scandianvian Languages major becuase I tested out of a boat-load of basic Norwegian language classes...so? I had a 3.3 back then and a 4.0 now - and I never saw any classes like those listed at the U of MN or my online University now.

Makes me wonder how many kids with a degree in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lost I have been beat out for jobs that require a "degree"?

ladytruth said...

That's crazy. I'm jealous. The easiest class I had to take at varsity was called RINL 111 which was computer literacy and don't let that fool you one bit. I considered myself informed on the workings of a computer, but that course was desgined in such a way that you had to go to the library and complete tasks on the computer every single bloody day. Kids these days have it so much easier. Unfortunately, it sometimes shows ;)

M-Cat said...

Are you kidding me? I don't need a class for The Simpsons and philosphy. Heck, that's our family home evening every sunday night! : )

Yankee Girl said...

It's disgusting what colleges will do to make money. They require an insane number of credits in order to graduate and actually make you take a certain number of electives, or blow off courses. All to make money.

I decided to go to a school that didn't offer blow of classes. I still paid an insane amount of money because it is a private school, but the only blow off class I was able to take was a lit class on the Beat Generation. And really, though the class was fun and the reading was easy, I still had to write a 25 page paper at the end, so I'm not sure if I would consider it a blow off.

Lisa said...

Makes me not feel so bad about not going ot college. Though the Philosphy of the Mtrix might be interesting because I just don't get that movie. I've seen it 100 times and don't get it. lol

Kimi said...

Had I known I could take a class about Buffy I'd have so gone to college. Let's be honest here, Angel in detail. Bring it on folks. Also Underwater Basket Weaving. Holy Shiz. And I thought I was really slacking taking all those home ec classes

i am the diva said...

a lot of those classes are courses i'd like to take,....but, like, as a night class offered for free at the library... not in a university or college setting...

Although - for my Women and Gender Studies in Popular Music class (i was a music major and there's only so many electives one can take that have anything to do with your major) and i wrote my term paper on Sexuality and Jim Morrison.

I also wrote a final about Drag in Music Videos...

Nothing to do with Opera or Music Theatre, my major, but the university says X amount of credits in courses outside of music...

Mira is triplet crown said...

I think a lot of this is professors having to compete for kids so they jazz up the names of their classes which may actually be serious study courses but they know what kids are interested in. They probably get reviewed on the popularity of their courses somewhat or need x students to fill the class or they don't get to hold it. So, perhaps not all of this is crap? I was just trying to find an explanation that made some sense...

Kathy B! said...

We're going to hell in a hand basket.

I once took a course (Humanities) on the Beach Boys' influence on 60's culture.

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

Now where were those classes when I was in college?? I could have used a playboy porn study of the nude when I was an Art History major!

JenJen said...

I don't know who any football coaches are (other than Lloyd Carr) and I've never seen Lost or Buffy.

What is disturbing to me (in addition to the obvious) is that a particular course or objective needs to be "sold" to the administration, board, etc., funding provided and a prof to teach the course.
That said, the fact that the idea to teach under water basket weaving was sold and bought by "those in charge" makes me think that "those in charge" are aiming to keep their butts in their positions by keeping the new grads, well, stupid and laughably uninformed.

Barbaloot said...

Wow-I was SO relieved to see my alma mater was not on your list! Although, I may have liked that Buffy the Vampire Slayer class---of course, in between all my hard classes I took! :)

Vivienne said...

MMM-K. For most of those, I can actually make a giant leap of a stretch and can maybe squint my eyes a bit and see how there could be some social study/communication/philosophy going on in some of those classes, but it's reaaaaaaally blurry.

The one that bugs me the most? Teaching the language of Elves. WTF?

I thought I was a slacker taking Film 101 (we got to watch and talk about movies!) at USC.

Deborah Godin said...

Holy crap! Didn't someone tell them that Underwater Basket Weaving is supposed to be a JOKE...along with "elevator passes"??? The only one I might remotely be interested in taking is the politics/Springsteen one. But at Continuing Ed, or the Y, not in a university. Oh, this is really eye-opening *shaking her head slowly*

The Boob Nazi said...

Ummm.... I'd really want to take elvish. Don't tell anyone.

Kristina P. said...

I went to BYU.

We had a class called "How To Judge Others and Make Them Feel Bad About Themselves." I aced it.

Some of those classes are absolutely ridiculous. But, I also don't have a problem with "fun" classes, in theory, as long as they only count as an elective.

Intense Guy said...

Someone needs to add "Proper Orange Traffic Cone Placement Technique" to the curriculum somewhere...

Its about all we do in this country anyway.

werica said...

i had a girl behind the register who couldn't do the math either when the register was down...worse though, my bill was $7.40 and i gave her $10.40. she couldn't calculate the $3!

Kris said...

This is crazy. I was getting agitated but then just looked at the picture of Spicoli... haha.

Pricilla said...

Gee and to think I actually had to take easy classes like Philosophy and Physics to get my degree.

Damn, almost makes me want to go back to school....

vanilla said...

Society must be on the upswing, because from here there is no way to go but up.

"Every day in every way, we are getting better and better."

Emily said...

Getting dresses? Seriously? So, what...if you go to class naked you've failed?

La La La Leah said...

Hmmmmm I did not see anything exciting like that when I was looking at classes to take next semester.... Not that I would. But I am still excited about going back to school!

Nonflammable said...

It's a very sad scenario. As a Tax/Treas.Consult. most of my clients hire from abroad.
US students are not measuring up academically, and have, ipso facto, set themselves up for career failure.

Many of the people I work with speak multiple languages. Yet many elementary schools in the US do not offer seconcary language as part of the curriculum, though it has been proven that optimal time to learn and retain secondary language is prior to age 10.

blah blah blah...I know I could go on...

Susan Berlien (warmchocmilk) said...

My husband just read freakonomis, he liked it. I might have to read it. Those college courses though...some of them can't be for real...

i am playing outside said...

The throwaway class at my school is Witchcraft, Magic and Occult Traditions.

Naturally, I took it. One of the 1257 lucky people each year.

Honestly though, it was probably the most interesting course I ever took. It took a serious historical approach, and I learned A LOT. I found it fascinating. I wanted to go to the class each week, rather than dragging my ass. Not to mention, the prof [who has been teaching the course for almost 20 years] has repeatedly be awarded Part-Time Prof of the Year. That says a lot, when there are a couple thousand profs at my school.

The Blonde Duck said...

I just wish all those were jokes! Popped in from SITS!

Slamdunk said...

What is more funny is that each professor wrote a book his/her class that the students are required to purchase--the faculty person gets paid to teach the class and then gets a cut from the publishing company for selling the book copies.

Mrs Montoya said...

Oh boy - can't wait for my kids to try and enroll in Underwater Basket Weaving. So sure that will come in handy someday . . . WTF?!?! I have no idea where you find the time and spunk to find these treasures, but I sure do love it! Have a great week :)

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Elvish? Wow! All I can say is wow!

Hugs!!

(Oh, and someone I work for can't make change. I don't care if this comment gets me fired, she's my boss!)

Alicia said...

man....if i took those classes i would have had a 4.0 with no prob!! how nice it would have been to watch the simpsons as studying...

Jen said...

This is why US cars are crap, bus. execs steal from their stock holders, and the world is going down the toilet. The dumbing down of America. Oh, and apparently our president thinks our kids need more time in school. How about we make better use of the time they're there?

Simply Mel said...

This explains the increase in "mouth breathers" that seem to have taken over the planet!

Lisa and Laura said...

Love it. I'd totally go back to school if I could take classes like that.

foxy said...

Wow, just... wow.

Yeah, that's it.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

I dare say, it is time for me to head back to college. Seems my education was incomplete.

Chief said...

The art of walking....

amazing

Living on the Spit said...

I see that the great schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia were left off the list. I did find one course called "Sex and Gender Go to the Movies" at UVA.

As the parent of a graduate student at VCU who is studying Bateriology and Virology, I would have kicked her butt for taking anything like those you mentioned.

The Blushing Hostess said...

Now I know why my friends thought my coarse load was nonsense!

Lemon Shortbread said...

wow. I thought universities were supposed to be harder than high schools. Going with the times, going with the times. Mostly nonsense lol

Katie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! You absolutely crack me up :) I'm so entertained by you! I simply must become a follower!

sheila said...

Gosh it's soooo surprising why we trail in education in the world. Can't figure that out. *snort*

Although my son would probably appreciate the Philosophy of South Park.

Who says society is dumbed down? Good Lord....

love in other words said...

wow, some of those are beyond ridiculous - glad to see that my alma mater isn't listed though

Science Teacher Mommy said...

When I was teaching I had a student from the local uni observing me a day or two a week for part of a semester. As Christmas Break approached (which, surprisingly was about a week after Thanksgiving, go college) she blathered on and on about how wasted she was and in need of a break. I was three months pregnant, sick as a dog, supporting a husband through school on a pittance of a salary, was teaching 7 periods of middle school without a prep hour, had two little boys at home . . . you get the drill.

I wanted to throw her size two butt right through my window.

Jules said...

I'd LOVE to take the Science of Superheroes.... But Hubby would take Philosophy of the Matrix Movies.... Monsters could be cool too.

I mean, who needed Economics anyway?

Sydney said...

I would have to agree with you on these classes being completely ridiculous. When I was in school, I still had a Phys. Ed. requirement! And each course only counted for 1/2 a credit, so I ended up taking 2 hours worth of PE classes. The upside, I was in GREAT shape when I graduated. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Brittany Ann said...

Lil' Kim has her own college course??? Are you kidding me? Dear God!

And is anyone else alarmed that these are a lot of big name schools offering this crap up as education?

ModernMom said...

LOL I took that sex ed bird class too. Got myself and A!

Meg Fee said...

wow. holy smokes. though i must say, i often feel like my college experience dumbed me down. acting classes aside, the academic classes were laughable.

Ali said...

Science of Superheroes? Seriously?

I would've taken this had I known it would count for...something.

(I went to UCI, and not sure if I'm proud of it anymore - haha!)

blueviolet said...

I often wonder how and why these courses get approved.

la aventurista said...

Amazing, isn't it? This explains so much! I need to find out if my school has any gems like these courses...

Bex said...

a lot of these might just be catchy titles for a class that is more enriching than, the matrix. you know, just to get students to sign up for the class. but lil kim? seriously?

i would take zombies in popular culture if i had to choose from that list. of course, i'm partial to zombies.

university education is about being well-rounded: becoming a man or woman of the renaissance. its not trade school. i think i just made the argument FOR language arts and math being mandatory. at least, a little bit.

WhisperingWriter said...

Oh man, I would LOVE that Lost class.

I love that show.

I miss it.

Amo said...

This was hilarious! The Simpsons and Philosophy? What?

VeRonda said...

I don't even know what to say. Haha... I know parents are glad their children are receiving tradition educations. Crack up...

Tammy Howard said...

I would kind of like to take Sex Drugs and Rock and Roll in Ancient Egypt.

I was on the waiting list for Sociology of Human Sexuality, too. Ridiculous class sessions interspersed with surprisingly difficult tests. Not what I wanted it to be at ALL.

Baloney said...

When I switched my major from Physical Therapy to education I was shocked that some people found the classes to be difficult. Seriously, they thought the class where we learned to teach elementary science was a challenging one. Don't even get me started on the ones that struggled through math. Scary. Not kidding!

I was about to post about the funny names of the community college classes posted by our local campus. Yours are WAY better!

Intense Guy said...

Interesting article in the paper today: Why should Notre Dame's football coach make more than tenured professors?

Idea #527 said...

Okay. . . I went to the University of Illinois in Champaign. (That's how it's spelled. . .) And I don't remember that class about Oprah! That must be new!
I do remember a few easy classes: Rocks for Jocks (Geology 101) which was a lot of memorizing of stuff and a Horror Film class that I really wanted to get into. I did take a Masters level class called the History of Play. Which was a very interesting class but was a TON of writing and reading. We had a 5 to 10 page paper due every week. I also took a class that basically consisted of vegetable gardening. I think it was called Intro to Vegetable Gardening. Surprisingly though, all the easy classes at UofI you had to show up at class or you failed. You couldn't skip. They had surprise quizzes at least once a week and the tests weren't all that easy. I actually studied for Vegetable Gardening!!

secret agent woman said...

This fills me with despair for our country's future.

(I'm a UGA alum, too)

Tam said...

When I first started looking for a job in a new field, I kept being told I would have to go back to school. No wonder! How silly of me to think that English, History, Math, Science and an occasional elective in Philosophy would ever be worth anything!!

ScrewedUp20Something said...

I agree wholeheartedly! And it's not better in Canada by the way. Example: I have a course called Hotel Management, seems pretty legit right? I missed a class and thereby missed the handing out of an assignment. One worth 20% of my final grade. I find out about this assignment the day before it's due. So of coufrse I want to do it and hand it in and get my 20%. Sounds easy right? It is, until I find out that I can't open the file from our online resource. Well maye I can get it from the teacher in the AM and then just do it up real quick and get it in the same day. Uh no. Why? Because the assignment has NOTHING to do with my skills or knowledge learned from the class. The assignment was to call a hotel manager and ask them these 4 questions and write down their answers. Seriously. We didn't even have to make up the questions, they were given to us on the assignment. And the teacher refuses to mark any late assignments. As if this was an actual assignment. If this was an essay of some kind, or a research project or anything that had something to do with me as a student, then it would have been done and handed in on time. But no, since we're all obviously babies and can't do our own work, I now have to get perfect on everything else in the course in order to get an A. How retarded is that?

Shop Girl* said...

Wow. I have no words. My "bird" course in my undergrad was first year French. And it was only a bird course because I took it in my fourth year. haha! I'm sure if I looked I could find a similar list among Canadian universities as well.

But "Beer Appreciation"? Seriously?