I took an engineering course my freshman year of college (don’t ask), and there was a mid-semester student review survey that went out about each of the classes you were taking.

I leave positive comments when I think a teacher is actually outstanding, and provided some sort of value to my learning. For the professors who basically just did their jobs and read the powerpoints out loud to me, I almost always just declined to even fill out a survey.

For leaving negative comments, I am always very thorough.

This is apparently a behavior that has stuck with me through this — as I write this, it’s 2017, and I just filled out a 700-word essay negative review for a military intelligence online training course I had to suffer through. The course was a total of 40 hours and I would say about 5% of it was useful. And I did tell them about that 5% I thought was valuable.

For the other 95%, all I can tell you here is that I did in fact use the phrase “trying not to hit myself over the head with a hammer” at one point in the extended monologue I composed for them. The rest is classified. And it wouldn’t make any sense to you anyway. And it would bore you.

Anyway.

Here’s word-for-word what I typed in the “leave a comment” section for the engineering course I was taking.

— — — — — — — — — —

I am concerned with the types of questions that seem to be on the tests given out in class. We watch films that have to do with the impact of technology on society (although some of the class presentations are more geared towards ethics and religion — things that may seem interesting to our instructor but doesn’t belong in an engineering class), and it seems that we are expected to learn absolutely every single second of the movie and memorize every detail just to get an A.

College should be a challenge, but not unreasonably. I fear that, like me, many students in this class will end up “studying for the test,” which is studying materials in a way that will ensure they pass the test, but caring about nothing more.

For example, we were given a question that asked what the film’s narrator referred to as the “teeth” of a river. This was on a quiz given in class.

(1) What does this have to do with the course material? Nothing.
(2) How were we supposed to know, while watching this video, that this would be something that is important? Even a diligent student taking notes would not think this to be important — it was simply a passing comment.

Another student in our class mentioned that a “broad spectrum of questions” seem to be on the exams given. Our professor told a story of when he was in Brazil, and how when he asked his instructor “How many words do you need to know in Portugese to learn the language?” His instructor’s answer was “All of them.”

This is supposed to convey the idea that we should learn everything he gives in class and know everything, because of his analogy. The implication is “How much do we need to know about what is covered in class to get an A?” All of it.

Apparently, because knowing everything is the only way I will pass this course. Even if I do pass it, I will because I filled my head with useless information like “What is Rachel Carlson’s adopted son’s name?” Obviously Rachel Carlson is a person to study in this course, but why be tested on the name of her kid? Just because I don’t memorize every minute detail doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention in class.

Just because an instructor thinks something is interesting doesn’t mean it is relevant to the class. Or that it should be learned for good. Or that it should be tested on. Or all of the above. I hope that whoever reads this doesn’t just throw this comment away — Because there are a lot of students in the course that agree with this but are too afraid to say anything in class.

This isn’t just a diatribe about a student failing in class. So far my grade is 100%. But this would concern me even if I wasn’t taking the course, and this type of behavior makes me want to warn other students not to take the course.

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