The Lowest Common Denominator
First of all, to all five of you who actually read this, I apologize for this rant, because it is a re-hash of an earlier post. But what the hell, it is the situation I am in right now, and I have a right to complain about it, right?
So I will get right down to it. The lowest common denominator. Used in math for addition of factors, where you figure out what number you must multiply your fractions by to get them to the same denominator, making it simple to sum them up. A simple process, one that a person who has the development beyond the 4th grade in elementary can understand. My question is, why do some people insist on teaching to the lowest common denominator? While attending this fine scholastic institution known as New Mexico State University, I have the pleasure of taking Physics for Engineers and Scientists...Basically a watered down version of vector algebra (which I am also taking at the same time, but that is beside the point). It is a class with 80-ish people in it, so no one gets much attention from the Ph.D. that instructs us. It is a Sophomore level class, intended to re-enforce other classes (of which you must have a good background in math to get into). There are university ordained guidelines to make sure that, say, and idiot from the education department could not take the class unless they were able to take Calculus, or another "high" math, so they have the background to take the class.
Well, it seems that the Physics department doesn't understand that people will come it with a working knowledge of trigonometry, i.e. how to figure out an angle, or the sides of a freaking triangle. We have been going over a vector problem in this class for 2 days (that is 2 hours), and we are barely through it. It isn't a hard problem, it is just that, well, they teach to the lowest common denominator.
Imagine if you will, you are learning something that is relatively new to you, let us say, how to build a bookcase. What would you expect to learn in this class? You may learn how to make certain cuts of wood (assume you are building it from scratch), measure out the pieces that you want, nail the damn things together, and then stain it (any carpenters out there, don't berate me for not explaining how to build a bookcase, this is a metaphor, not actual instructions). Well, what if, to learn how to build this bookcase, your class had 80 people in it, who have all taken (or learned in some way) how to build stuff with wood. You would assume that you will be able to learn how to build a bookcase in the first day, and then put a few together, learn some techniques for adding more features to your bookcase....doors, glass facing, lighting, etc....However, instead of the instructor assuming that you know what the hell a hammer is, he assumes that 5% of the class have no idea what a hammer, a nail, or even wood is. So, instead of going ahead, and teaching the 95% of people who have a clue (some may not know how to hammer very well, or some may be bad at staining, but all know what a hammer and nails are), said instructor decides to catch the lagging 5% up, and teach the basics.
This is a hammer, it is used to hammer nails into the wood. Remember what wood is? This is wood...yes Alex...no, that is plastic, this is wood.
You see how frustrating this would be, don't you?
I don't claim to be the smartest person in the world, but, for God's sake, please don't treat the majority of a friggin college level class like they are in the 1st grade. I felt like it was time for a snack and nap, right after finger painting, at the pace we were going.
Why are our colleges wasting time and money on allowing Ph.D.s to NOT teach 70-ish people, just because 10-ish shouldn't be in that class? I have noticed this, in the past 2 1/2 semesters I have enjoyed being at NMSU, that, any class that doesn't have ME before it, is a waste of time. They assume that people don't know anything at all about anything, and teach from there. I have an idea, just assume that I don't speak English, and then start teaching me the language in Physics class, so I can have a background when you start teaching the numbers, colors, and how to piss standing up.
I feel really sorry for some of these people that are going through this type of instruction, they are learning one thing only, that to get a degree, all you have to do is be the lowest common denominator and skate right on by. They will do great at their next job...."Would you like fries with that?"