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July 15, 2010 / Brent Sears

My Best Course in College

Dr. Bill Hopkins was teaching his last semester before retirement when I took his course entitled Psychology of the Exceptional Child at 8am on MWF.  I took it because I was looking to write a couple of 10 page papers, read my 75 lbs psychology textbook from cover to cover, and make sure all my homework was done for each class.

In fact, the opposite was true.  There was no textbook, no attendance policy, no research papers, and no homework!!!!  We were graded on four multiple-choice tests, and that was it.  In the world of academia this is not the way you conduct a college course.  It’s just sheer laziness for a professor to sit up at the front of the room, talk to his class, and give the notes as he types them into MS Word.

Everyone knows you need a $100 textbook, multiple quizzes, nightly homework assignments, written research papers, and all-important exams.  Everyone knows that in order to learn students need to be formally assessed early and often.  This Dr. Hopkins character was certainly not working hard enough.

Three years later, sitting with my friend Bill in a diner over breakfast, when he brings up topics he taught in class because it is relevant to the conversation, I can almost always finish his sentences.   That is because he taught me what was important, in the time he had, with the best tools available.

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