02 June 2006

My First Week of Classes Part I -- Tuesday Biology Class

I'm doing a few posts to get my caught up as to what's been going on over the last week or so, what with classes and such, so forgive the relatively high posting volume.


First day of class. BYS120 (Organismal Biology) at 10:15 to 12:15, and BYS120L (Organismal Biology Lab) from 12:45 to 3:15. Fun!

Except I was very nearly late. The power had flickered off and on the night before, and while my computer rebooted just fine, it turned out that the internal timer got set back by about ten minutes, so when I was going by that clock to know when to go hop in the shower and go to class, I ended up getting there by the skin of my teeth.

So I walk into the fairly large hall with space for around 125-150 students, and find about forty of my fellow travellers. As expected, for a summer class, but what was not expected was the fact that Bruce Stallsmith, my professor for the spring session of the Introductory Biology class and the self-titled "runner of the freshman biology program at UAH", wasn't present. Despite the fact that his name was on the class sign-up sheet.

Instead, we were graced by the presence of Judy Cooper (no link at UAH), who said that she is not yet a full professor (not having her doctorate), but who currently has a BS in Biology, a MS in Biology, and an MS in Philosophy, all from UAH. My thoughts: 1) if I have any procedural questions about the university, I know just who to go to -- this woman has probably been at this university for a decade or more. 2) since I was once a fairly-serious Philosophy major at UAH, perhaps this class might be a bit more interesting and involving than Stallsmith's admittedly informing but strongly lecture-and-powerpoint-heavy style.

Then again, we are talking about a "devil we don't", here, but since I was bound to get a new professor eventually, there's really no room to complain here.

Cooper described herself as having a primary interest in paleontology (yay for evolution!) and handed out the syllabus. Two major exams counting 25 points each, a final counting 50 points, and a lab grade worth 25 points. She also seems to expect a lot more from us than Stallsmith did in terms of understanding the material in the book independently -- Stallsmith seemed to have the philosophy that if he didn't go over it in some detail in class, it wasn't really important to him.

In other words, this class looks to be a step up in difficulty from the first one. As expected -- the BYS119 class was a bit of a "gut" class.

We ended up spending about an hour and fifteen minutes or so on actual material after the end of start-of-semester formalities, starting with history-of-biology/philosophy-of-biology issues that seemed, at least in my state of rudimentary knowledge from independent reading and conversations with John Wilkins, pretty-much on the level. She let us out of class about thirty minutes early because of the lack of air conditioning in the room, and believe me when I say that when there's no air conditioning in Alabama in the summer, it's very nice to get out a bit early.

I'll have more from the first week of classes this weekend.

(I originally had a long and involved --and nitpicky-- discussion of Plato's Doctrine of the Ideals in this post, but decided it made me look like a jerk to go on and on about it. So I've removed it, although I don't think anyone read it in the six hours or so after I posted it and before I deleted it.)

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