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Concerns about Finishing the Course, Etc.

March 15, 2016

Hi folks,

It has been brought to my attention that there are concerns about the pace of the course and about the time I’ve been forced to take this semester. First off, I want to reassure students that if I’m forced to take time off for whatever reason, that’s not something I’d let negatively impact my students. You guys and your learning are the focus for me, and I’d never let anything outside of the classroom impact your education. I take the teaching side of the job very seriously and I want you to be sure that when I make decisions, they’re with your (the students’) best interests in mind.

With that in mind, we will finish the course in a timely fashion while continuing at the pace that we’re moving at. For anyone who has concerns about the rest of the schedule, let me break it down for you. We have 10 hours of class time remaining with E and F, and 10 hours remaining with G and H. We are finishing unit 8 in the next class (or two, 1-2 hours max) with each group. Unit 9 is a very short unit (2 hours max) which leaves us with 6-8 hours for each group to focus on unit 10. This is plenty of time for completion of the course, folks. The only drawback from my perspective is that it doesn’t leave sufficient time for a test on units 9 and 10 in all likelihood, but that was always something that was mentioned as a possibility.

Another concern that was raised was about the level of the course being much like that of a high-school physics course. I want everyone to be sure that I’m not “dumbing down” the material in this course. I am teaching to the outline, and if you have concerns about the level of the material taught, please refer to the outline. You will find that the topics that should be covered according to the outline have indeed been covered: this is something that, again, I take very seriously. Adhering to the outline is how we guarantee the level of education is the same in all instances of the course, and I make sure that I meet those requirements. I could always make the material more challenging by including more complicated mathematics or by increasing the depth of coverage, but I think doing so does you a disservice: that’s difficulty for the sake of difficulty, and it doesn’t help you to learn the concepts.

Folks, in short, I appreciate that there are concerns, as that indicates to me that you’re responsible students and you’re concerned about the value of your education. I can really appreciate that and I’m impressed that you advocate for yourself: it’s something I’ve encouraged my students to do for years. That said, I encourage you to address concerns like these to me directly: it is certainly well within your rights to go to my administrator with these concerns, but I don’t think it was necessary in this case. I’m always happy to meet with concerned students and to try to address problems that you may see in the classroom or in the delivery of material. I like to think I’m approachable and easy to deal with. Give me the opportunity to prove that, at least!

Gerry

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