Nov 19 2011

“What Have You Learned in This Class?”

Published by at 12:32 pm under Education/Schools

My boss mentioned an interesting final exam he once had.  The professor met each student individually and the final exam was speaking for 12 minutes straight to answer the question “What have you learned in this class?”  The student gets two pauses and the professor says nothing except “Off-topic” or “Change subjects” if he feels the student is wasting time.  How many classes have you taken that have taught you enough to speak semi-coherently for 10+ minutes about what you’ve learned? What separates those teachers/professors from the other teachers/professors you’ve had?

20 responses so far

20 Responses to ““What Have You Learned in This Class?””

  1. Damzoon 19 Nov 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Hey B.Mac your back. Hope your packing went well.

  2. Chihuahua0on 19 Nov 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Okay, as a secondary student, let me try my “Room of Requirements” class:

    Okay, one of the first units of the year after a week of playing board games and Werewolf was the spy unit. Basically, we did a simulator which was used in another class last year. Two people from the two different classes of RoR were assigned as Game Masters.

    They constructed a scenario involving the US and Sweden (ironically). Sweden’s goal is to shut down America’s–

    Oh, what did I learn?

    That’s a bit harder. But I learnt the Moscow Rules, how you’re not opposed to harass the other side, technology will always fail you (like Murphy’s Law). We also did cryptnology very early. One of the documents we decoded using the alphabet subsitute was on cyber hackers, another about a pilot who fell asleep on the wheel.

    Let me jump around to my research on the music industry. Basically, it finds artists, records their songs, and distribute it to the masses. There are four major companies that own labels, which has sub-labels for each artist. I’m presuming we’re talking about pop, by the way. A pop artist gets discovered by doing guilds, networking, and keeping an eye on talent scouts from the A&R department. Or they could always do what Florence Welch did and go up to a manager and sing a song–while drunk. Or do what Rihanna did and find a producer through a friend from a friend.

    Next, there’s the whole demo process. A demo is like a mini-album, recorded rough and not all the way mix. They’re used a lot for promoting and trying to convince an artist to record the real thing (Brittney Spears did a demo for Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”) but they’re often used by newbies to convince the record label to record them.

    Oh, and did you know that the term “record label” came from back when there were actual records, which had labels indicating the artist and the recording studio which recorded them?


    Actually, I’m not going to do it for ten minutes. But welcome back!

  3. ShyVioletson 19 Nov 2011 at 3:26 pm

    There are four classes I’ve take that I could talk about for at least 10+ minutes.

    The first was AP world history: In that class, we learned all about the evolution of man and civilization, the rise and fall of empires (the ottoman turks are BEAST), the evolution of technology and all sorts off other awesome thing! The teacher was great for a few major religions 1) He made even History really easy to under stand 2) He taught us how to right the essays for the AP test

    Second is was my English 2 H class: We watched a ton of moves, read interesting stuff, and had a very easy going teacher who had us do most of our work in class.

    Third was my Chemistry Honors teacher: Her high energy, hands on teaching method made class fun and interesting and we got to blow things up in class.

    Fourth was my 3D Art teacher: she was very knowledgeable and presented information in a way that it could be understood and remembered. I learned a lot from her.

  4. B. McKenzieon 19 Nov 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I had a writing workshop where I started out as THAT GUY that constantly points out minor ways in which the story isn’t realistic that were usually irrelevant. I think my reviewing style changed noticeably after taking the course–I try to think more about the target audience and what the author’s goal is.

    If you put a gun to my head and told me to keep talking for 10 minutes about the class, I’d probably start talking (blathering) about the importance of clarity in writing. If readers cannot understand what is happening in the story (e.g. the sequence of events and some basic idea of what events are happening and who is doing what), the story has almost assuredly failed regardless of how beautiful the language is or how much thought has gone into the characterization.

    Gimmick vs. genius. Many writers want to be clever. Some resort to deliberately unusual points-of-view to do so (e.g. the narrator was the murderer but we only learn that at the very end). My rule of thumb there is that readers are generally entitled to know everything relevant the point-of-view character knows, although I think readers will give you some latitude on characters revealing their internal thought processes at a time when they want to make it external. (For example, if a POV Sherlock Holmes reveals the identity of the killer to Watson 20 pages after he realizes it, I think that’s okay, especially if readers had a chance to make the same realization). When stories try to withhold external information (like what a POV character sees), I think that’s probably a gimmick that will not please the readers. My rule of thumb is that the dividing line between gimmick and genius is that many readers share genius writing with their friends. Very few readers share gimmicks. (At least, I hope you don’t have any friends that tell you things like, “THERE’S THIS STORY WHERE THE CHARACTERS ARE REALLY SQUIRRELS/COMPUTERS/JESUS”). In contrast, I definitely would recommend the first Harry Potter book on the basis of a strong, largely unpredictable twist ending that makes sense (at least until the later books).

  5. Wingson 19 Nov 2011 at 5:37 pm

    My AP Language and Literature* teacher actively encourages the numerous artsy kids, to the point where, when selecting groups for a parody-writing project, she was torn between putting one of the “creative writers” in each group to make things fair, or putting all of them in the same group so that everyone else could watch them fight. She decided against the latter option, which was sad because that group would have included a mind-numbingly idealistic fluff writer, a relentlessly cynical dark high fantasy writer, and a sci-fi author who is the reason that the fluff writer can’t have nice things.

    I could go on about how amazing this class is, but I think the above should prove my point.

    *AKA Overachiever Class

  6. Chihuahua0on 19 Nov 2011 at 6:32 pm

    ^ I can relate to that, about how one of the teacher’s struggles is how to distribute the student’s based on skill level. One choice is to put all the smartest ones in one group, the bad ones in another, and the average ones all over, while sometimes one of the smart ones in the bad group as a balancing factor.

    This why I prefer to work alone. (One time, I went to fact-checker to blowing away the entire class by presenting my own speech. Let’s say everyone except the artist did their job correctly). You know what happens in a writing collab project if everyone can’t agree. I bet there’re horror stories about that.

  7. ShyVioletson 19 Nov 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I also prefer to work alone. Mostly because I end up doing all the work myself anyway but also 1) because I know the caliber of work I produce will be up to snuff and 2) I have no patients for incompetence.

  8. Milanon 20 Nov 2011 at 5:12 am

    Wings, your story reminds me of a class in lower high school English. My country town school didn’t do debating, so the teacher assigned us some. The brighter, or more rattily cunning, were put in one team; the others in team two. Team two was allowed to choose which side of the debate they wanted to be on. The topic: Baby seals should be clubbed for their fur.

    Cunning folks are attracted to challenge, so off they went. Needless to say, the cunning folks won by a landslide. And thus the lesson was learned. Epic teacher.

  9. Mynaon 20 Nov 2011 at 9:21 am

    I’ve had a few teachers who would put one smart student in each group to try and balance people out, but it would get kind of frustrating pretty quick. That’s because if you’re that one smart student then everyone latches on to you like leeches and begs you for answers and makes you summarize really simple paragraphs because “I just don’t get it.” Welcome to US History.

    Back to the OP though, I would LOVE that kind of a final exam. I could go on and on and it would be very fun and probably a lot easier than just bubbling in multiple choice questions that I’d forget the answers to in a few weeks.

  10. Marquison 20 Nov 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Have none of you ever had Honors Classes. I mean there are pros and cons.

    Pros: No one begs you for answers. Everyone works very fast.Looks Good When Going To College.

    Cons: Sooooo much homework.Teacher expects you to know everything.The kids think they’re badass.Projects are like 200 points.

  11. Marquison 20 Nov 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Overall I like My Honors Classes really lets me be me without everyone thinking I’m showing off or something.

  12. Mynaon 20 Nov 2011 at 12:44 pm

    The US History I’m in is an Honors class and I still get people asking me for answers…

  13. ShyVioletson 20 Nov 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Haha I get asked for answers in my AP class. Some people are just lazy.

  14. B. Macon 20 Nov 2011 at 5:40 pm

    “The topic: Baby seals should be clubbed for their fur.” Poor topic, in my opinion. How could anyone argue against that? Seals are a treasure trove of tender meat and Alaskan-grade fur and clubs are the treasure map. Thwack!

    Well, on the plus side, the idea of giving some students a much harder position strikes me as an excellent way to encourage creative thinking. That said, I would give the more competent students the more difficult position. 😉

  15. B. Macon 20 Nov 2011 at 5:53 pm

    “Pros: … Looks Good When Going To College.” In retrospect, I think honors classes help more by preparing students to succeed in college. I saw a lot of students fare poorly at college and I think the main difference between students that succeeded in a given major and those that did not is how hard they were pushed (and pushed themselves) in high school. As for workload, I had some college courses where we read 300-400 pages a week. If that’s sounds like it might be overwhelming, I would highly recommend taking AP courses to prepare yourself, particularly in the fields of study that come most easily to you. Also, I took political science, which is a relatively easy major*. Some of the students in the engineering department had vastly more demanding curricula than I did, although it sounded like they did more projects and timed worksheets and the like rather than straight-up reading.

    In 100% seriousness, students that push themselves hard at a good high school will probably find undergraduate courses in the liberal arts and sciences easier than their high school experience, even at elite universities like Harvard/Yale/Stanford. (For one thing, most majors in LAS only take 15-21 hours of courses each week).

    *In general, engineering, physical sciences & medicine, and mathematics are vastly harder majors than liberal arts and science programs like history/English/political science, but the trade-off is that students in difficult programs have a MUCH easier time getting jobs during and after college. If you want to be paid like a college graduate, you better have job skills that are far and beyond what employers can get from high school graduates. At the very least, I would recommend seriously pursuing an economically valuable language, some relatively simple computer skills (e.g. if you’re looking to do online writing, a basic grasp of SEO is a big plus) and/or some other practical skill that employers are looking for.

  16. Marquison 21 Nov 2011 at 4:01 pm


  17. Indigoon 21 Nov 2011 at 6:55 pm

    @ B.Mac
    Oh my gosh that comment about the seals was hilarious! 🙂

  18. Goaton 22 Nov 2011 at 12:15 pm

    My one teacher who used that format was an English teacher who majored in creative writing. I thought it was an innovative and different way to test students. I think creative teachers branch out and take different approaches for testing their students more than the rest. Creative approaches aren’t limited to just Humanities teachers, but that’s where I see it the most.

  19. Scotton 23 Nov 2011 at 8:01 am

    I had a marketing course my senior year of college where I had to create a 15-20 minute presentation to sell a product to my professor. It was just my professor and I up front while the whole class watched!!

  20. B. McKenzieon 23 Nov 2011 at 7:24 pm

    15-20 minutes is a helluva long sales pitch. If you’re taking 15-20 minutes to sell something, hundreds of thousands of dollars and/or some lives better be on the line. 🙂

    That said, the project sounds exciting. I hope it went well for you.

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