Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Questions & Observations for the Post-English-Major/Marketized-University Era in the Suburban Midwest

“The Customer’s always Right.”  - popular apothegm

College enrollments are declining, and those in the humanities, including English, are plummeting. This seems to me to be a result of the post-2008 economic collapse: fewer people can afford college, and those who can go into engineering and accounting, rather than literature. We have to do some serious sales to get people to be English majors. How to respond to this new reality?

- Do I need to be more entertaining in the classroom? How?
            - Should I start using PowerPoint all the time, showing more films, etc.?
            - Switch to large lectures and play up the performance aspect?
            - Do more in class w/computers (and let them check What’s App, porn, etc.?)
            - How do I “sell” my subject more effectively?
- How improve my effectiveness at teaching writing? What does the New Student positively respond to, in composition instruction? And does it really teach them to write?  

- How much can I realistically expect them to read (in a particular level)?
            - Teaching more lower-division courses means smaller assignments (?)
            - If I rely more on media produced by others, I can decrease the amount of   reading: since we
              won’t spend as much time talking, we won’t need as much to talk about.
            - If we want to attract English majors, we can’t go too hard on them. We want them to have a
              pleasant, relaxing experience.

- We’ve got to give the customer what they want. But we also have to sell it. (we’re beyond edutainment; this is edvertising)
- Assign what I think that they should know about a given topic or what I think they will want to read/watch that’s related to that topic?
            - Any polling data of students on this issue?

The real problem is time. For instance, we don’t have enough time between when our course assignments come out and when our book orders are due to really think about and research how we might overhaul a particular course.

Moreover, we’re too busy teaching to radically alter our teaching. If we take time to learn new (or not-so-new) technologies, techniques, and pedagogical theories, it’s usually on break (or sabbatical, if we have them), which is also the only time to get any appreciable amount of research and writing done. So it’s back to research vs. teaching, esp. if teaching is not your area of research, or if your area of research is not one that students want to study (e.g., any type of poetry from any era).

There are, of course, good reasons why all this should be so: the students that are left in the university are working more hours to stay there. But then, on-line courses, which should theoretically be less time-consuming, have abysmal retention rates. The ultimate problem is that the ultimate "consumer" (i.e., employers) have a different set of desires than the immediate customer (i.e., the student). But if the ultimate consumer isn't satisfied, then the value to the immediate customer diminishes. If the student is the customer, and the customer's always right, then the student is always right. All I can say is that I'm glad my teachers didn't believe that.