Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What Did I Learn in College?

So we're in the middle of this process to rebuild the School of Drama curriculum from the ground up. Its been a fascinating project and we've been at it, well we've been at it forever.

We started by doing strategic planning for the school. After that we identified learning objectives for the school. We vetted the learning objectives through the whole faculty, current students, and alumni. The we completed mastery grids, sort of a "where am I" for someone pursuing a career. With the mastery grids and the learning objectives we identified some school wide course priorities. At the same time we were doing that last bit, we also started to look at how doing shows fits with teaching.

All just fascinating.

Lately I have been comparing the various models we've been coming up with to my own educational experience. Being a product of this program gives me a little bit of special perspective into the process.

It seems like we have so much more to teach now. I pulled up my transcript (the SIO Computer thinks I am still a student) to look at the courses I took and it was so very different back in the day. Sometimes I think where I leaned most about carpentry was the Wilmette Park District and my Dad. I know most of what I know about welding I learned on the job at the Rep. Everything I know about calcs and machinery I learned in grad school. My directing exposure surely comes from my Mother.

Stage Management, Props, Electrics, Administration, Costumes, & Paints?

Debi, Eloise, Stevie, Heather, Kelly, & Hedge. Dating taught me more than any course ever could have.

Sound - clearly I learned sound in college, that and that I didn't want to be a physicist.

Add that thread to the "can't teach that" thread and I really begin to wonder if it matters what a school teaches at all. A colleague has a quote they use for parent functions "the job of a university is to put talented people together and then to duck." Is it really that simple? Are courses secondary?

Can you tell I have a severe case of navel gazing? Maybe we should replace the entire set of course requirements with liberal arts, do a bunch of shows, and schedule a rigorous program of speed dating. Seemed to work for me.


andrea said...

hopefully no one is going to disagree with you that we all learned alot when it came to actually going out and working in the industry (well, anyone who went out and did so won't, even if they just did for a little bit). but i do disagree that the coursework itself isn't worth it, or that replacing the curriculum with some liberal arts nonsense is a better way to go. you may have had parents to learn carpentry and directing from, but i sure didn't - i chose the school of drama specifically because it offered a conservatory environment for everything i thought i'd "missed" by going to a shitty high school with no emphasis on the arts, muchless theater. i have more to say about this, but i'll catch you online rather than tie up your whole comments page and sounding hyperdefensive :)

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Andrea. My high school gave me enough to know that I love theatre, not much in the skills department though. I chose CMU over NYU because of the lack of liberal arts environment. While I enjoy Kevin's visual imagery, without the classes to hone our skills I imagine the product would be little more than an enthusiastic attempt with potential to be best.


David said...

Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about lessening the rigorousness or about getting rid of all of the drama classes - but I have a sheet that has 16 classes for sophomores. I can't believe they need 16 classes.

Chris said...

As someone who will be a sophomore next fall, I think 16 classes is a very bad idea.

That said, I do see there is value in a liberal arts program, but I picked CMU because you guys don't. [English and History classes are not for me.]

And even when it comes to theatre, I am without a doubt all the way on the depth side of the "depth vs. breath" spectrum. Sign me up for the four years of solid technical direction, machine design, and automation program.

Not the best thing for everyone, so it obviously needs to be in the middle somewhere. But it would be a shame to lose that edge by watering down the course load. And if not watering it down, streatching the kids too thin to actually specialize and succeed. (how could I possibly do well in one class if I have 15 others to think about!?)

just my thoughts...

Katy said...

Just remember, there are only 168 hours in a week. You absolutely need to sleep. If you have 16 classes to take, at an average of 5 hours per class each week in the classroom, that's 80 hours just to show up for. I'm sure that it is a little less than that, but when you add in homework time, you're getting dangerously close to hitting the physical limit. Like I said, 168 hours.

Anonymous said...

i value my froo-froo-ass undergraduate liberal arts education more than anything in the world... it's absolutely made me who i am as a person. i wouldn't trade it for anything... but we've talked about this before... that's just me. there are others who don't want that... so i guess there's a place for both, and who knows "ever the twain should meet."

wow... what a vague answer... guess that's what tech will do to your brain after a while (if anyone is in the philadelphia area and wants to see the premiere of durang's ne musical, drop me a line.)

Anonymous said...

What someone wants at the time, i.e. no english classes, and what is actually going to serve someone well for the rest of their life are very different things. A lot of people are tempted to pack their schedules with every class they can and end up being so busy trying to do too many different things that they don't have the descretionary time to practice and internalize the skills that will serve them in their careers.
I personally think that the more time that can be left around classes and encouraged towards personal projects the better.