Our "professor" was a retired Colonel (Air Force I believe), and he knew absolutely nothing about teaching. His approach was to read aloud to the class, all students sitting at their desks, books open to the page he was reading from, reading silently what he read aloud. For the entire duration of each class. For the entire duration of each wretched class. Well, some days chicken, some days feathers, and I don't think anyone dropped out because of his approach.
I think several did drop out after the first exam he gave. He had actually managed to find an approach to exams that was worse than his approach to teaching. The exam was a trivia test. Here are two of the questions, word for word, that appeared in the exam, along with the correct answers so you won't have to sit there with them on the tips of your tongues.
Q. Who (sic) did Frank Lloyd Wright call "der Meister?"
A. Louis Henry Sullivan
Q. What is the width of the standard railroad tie in America today?
A. 56.5 inches
Now when you are
But even worse, and possibly the most useless bit of information requested in the exam, was the width of the railroad tie. It is interesting that private railroad companies laid their own tracks, that the tracks were of different widths, and that consequently one company's trains could not use most other companies' tracks. It is also interesting that someone finally realized this was not a very good approach and that eventually a standard track width made its appearance. Absolutely the least important bit of information about all that is the width finally settled on.
In those days smoking was considered a lesser crime than . . . oh . . . say . . . being a straight white male, and in the school you could smoke in the hallways if you were taking a break. I zipped through the exam - seventy-five questions if memory serves - and was first in the class to finish. I do not mean to imply that I found the exam easy, only that these were not the sort of questions that allowed you to reason your way to the correct answers. Either you knew or you didn't. I no longer recall how many correct answers I submitted, but I suspect that mostly I "didn't."
Incidentally, in case you are thinking gleefully that I "still know" the answers, I hasten to confess that I Googled them.
I went out to the hallway, lit a cigarette, and contemplated changing courses, perhaps to something more useful, such as Left-Handedness Among Readers of Braille Sanskrit. A moment later I was joined by a young woman who was furious. She was taking the class because she wanted to be a teacher, and to get a teaching certificate in Texas you had to have taken American History in a Texas school.
"I graduated with honors from Northwestern, a HISTORY MAJOR! If I flunk history in this shitty little junior college . . . ."
We rolled our eyes and commiserated with each other about retired colonels who decided to teach. I suppose this was unfair to retired colonels in general, but I do believe that you'd have done the same thing at that time, in that place. Unless of course you were a retired colonel.
However, we learned the following week that he graded on a curve and that she and I had scored A's.
Vietnam called and I had to take an incomplete on the course. I shed crocodile tears and then smiled bravely while I waved the flag and cajoled Del Mar into giving me the incomplete.
The good news is that, for me at least, Vietnam was decidedly less unpleasant than that class. The bad news is that by the time I got back to the States I had lost whatever motivation I needed to continue my education.