Four Hours Seems Like A Real Waste of Time
By Anthony Ferrara
I was recently, walking a friend of mine to the bus stop outside of 1P, when she was approached by one of her former professors. He asked her where we were coming from and she told him that we had just gotten out of class. He checked his watch. “You mean the one that is supposed to be running for another two hours?” he asked, before continuing. “You’re getting ripped off. You guys paid for a four hour class. Whoever that professor is, is cheating you of your money.”
I found it odd that this man seemed so bothered. He didn’t know what we were going over in that class. He had no comprehension of whether or not we had already advanced past the suggested curriculum for that afternoon, thus allowing ourselves the opportunity to take a few more hours to ourselves on a beautiful autumn day. Hell, for all he knows, my professor had an emergency to attend to. When I inquired about what was making him so irritated, he replied with an obnoxious enough statement that it made me wince.
“You’re the problem–people like you are the problem,” he shot back. I had never met this guy before. His assumptions about my class, professor, and myself were extremely arrogant. Needless to say, an argument between him and I would ensue.
As he walked away, I wanted to chase him down and continue to let him know how I felt. But there is a time and a place for everything.
My friend went to the bus stop and I trudged over to my car, still troubled about my recent dispute. As I pulled away and left the campus, a wave of negativity came over me. There was a professor who, just that morning, had asked all of her students if we needed her class to be “simpler” — this class also being one (a communications theory, lecture class) that runs for four hours. A few of my classmates heeded this statement and started throwing out suggestions.
The rest of us — an obvious majority of older, no-nonsense having students — cringed at what was going on around us. Simpler? No, we needed something that was actually worth going to — a classroom environment where we’d actually learn something — rather than have one chapter of course material repeated to us over and over, like we are incapable of comprehending elementary curriculum that isn’t forcefully and monotonously jammed into our heads for four hours.
I should mention that we are offered a luxurious 15 minute break at some point throughout the lecture, though. How wonderful is that? Ah, sarcasm.
There is no Ivy League school that offers any four hour lecture classes. Why, you ask? Well, what kind of Harvard kid needs to be lectured for that long in order to comprehend the material? Our system here at CUNY seems to see this situation in a different light.
I believe that the whole idea of a class that runs for more than three hours (that isn’t a lab, or a class that is completely hands on) already insinuates that the students who are going to be consuming the curriculum are inept. Professors are forced through the syllabus to teach down to their classroom. Too many of the classes at CSI are taught in a disparaging way, molded more towards the students that don’t really care to be there (the ones who, as a result of open admissions, have given this place a bad reputation), therefore generating a lackluster vibe of impartialness throughout a lot of classroom environments here, which ends up bringing down the morale — and potential — of the students that are there to learn and grow.
Now, with all that said, I had a four hour class last semester that I absolutely loved. It was a television production class that ran straight through for the full time every week, offering no breaks at all.
The environment was every bit as challenging as any class I’ve ever taken in my extended college life — and included material that I had never seen before, such as operating video cameras, and writing a television news script.
We did not have breaks because we did not have time for a break — the class consisted of a very firsthand approach by my professor too conveyed a ton of course material that we didn’t necessarily have the time for, but that we made the time for.
My classmates and I absorbed a wealth of knowledge because of my professor’s outright belief in the class; a simple notion of confidence that we were all capable enough to consume all of the foreign information that was being presented to us.
It worked in a way that is similar to how technical schools work. A friend of mine, Danielle, attends the New York Institute of Technology, where she majors in interior design. She says that almost every one of her classes runs for four hours. She continues, “But we need that amount of time to be able to cover every aspect of what we are learning.” In her case, as was mine with the production class, there was never any time wasted.
I know that I am not the only person that has ever pondered all of my aforementioned thoughts in this article. There needs to be some form of hierarchy in the CUNY system that can address this issue — because it most certainly is an issue.
By being so lax with our scheduling we are making our professors lazy, discouraging the proactive part of our student body, and wasting unnecessary hours on underwhelming repetitiveness in our classrooms.
Most people who attend CUNY schools are doing so to save money and still get a solid, in-depth college education. And in this day in age, especially, with the economy being how it is, our CUNY campuses boast professors and students alike that work full time jobs and perform other part time jobs and extracurricular activities during the hours that they are not in the classroom.
So save the four hour time slots for the classes that actually need it, and let’s buck the trend of extended lecture classes that do nothing but bore everybody to death, and take hours away from people who desperately need them.