- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (July 27, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812218876
- ISBN-13: 978-0812218879
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,045,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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I'm the Teacher, You're the Student: A Semester in the University Classroom
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"An honest book, but not a bleak one. Allitt writes that he loves teaching and inevitably grows fond of his students over a term. Those feelings come through, as does his passion for American history. . . . Consistently engaging and enlightening."—Philadelphia Inquirer
"Charming, and compelling."—Wall Street Journal
"With a friendly intimacy, he invites the reader into his classroom, offering a rare glimpse into one of the most closely guarded spaces of the academy. . . . A wonderful model for anyone seeking guidance on the craft of teaching in higher education; highly recommended."—Library Journal
"A wonderful book. I heartily recommend it and tip my hat to the author."—Metromagazine
"A model for bridging the gap between being a teacher and a learner. It makes a significant contribution to the literature on teaching as a self-reflective model."—Teachers College Record
From the Publisher
Patrick Allitt is Professor of U.S. History at Emory University, where he holds the Arthur Blank Chair for Teaching Excellence. He supervises workshops for Emory faculty interested in improving effective teaching skills. His previous books include Religion in America Since 1945: A History and Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome.
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I have seen citations to the book in which it has been used to demonstrate the lack of preparation and indolence of American students (even at Emory). While he raises problems of contemporary higher education (grade inflation, for example), this is not a theoretical or historical book on higher ed; it is much more of a journal, detailing one professor's experience in one semester of work.
How representative is the experience related in the book? I would say that his expectations as a teacher are higher than most, much higher than many. His dedication to the task is also far higher than average. Even though he enjoys the help of a teaching assistant in a relatively small class (40 or so students) he goes out of his way to bring the material to life, with various media presentations and a series of labor-intensive activities. He volunteers to read first drafts of papers, which is something that most would not do. First, you cannot do it for some without doing it for all (and announcing that you are willing to do it for all, which he does). Once you announce that you will read first drafts you are setting yourself up to be the editor/proofreader for your students, an extremely important role which they will have to learn to do for themselves; teachers do not follow them around through life, reading first drafts.
His exams and paper requirements strike me as demanding, but then he curves the grades at the end of the process and his allocation of points for various activities within the course is applied in what appears to be a loosey-goosey fashion, something that would set him up for endless challenges by bunkhouse lawyers with calculators and personal claims.
The students seem to be like most upper-average students. Some readers may be chagrined to learn what they do not know; very few professors will be surprised. To give the Emory students their due, most professors would consider the course expectations to be extremely high. A course such as this would largely be unthinkable at 90% of American institutions.
So read and enjoy, take a few grains of salt, wish that you had teachers as conscientious as Professor Allitt and then read some of the more historical/analytical books on contemporary higher education to discover why we are where we are today.
fine presenters that organization uses, and he had become a favorite. When I came across this book, I hoped that his "style" would
translate into the written word. I really enjoyed this book. As a retired college professor, the subject interested me. Although he
teaches at a much more prestigious and selective school than the one I was affiliated with, I was surprised to find that his students
had some of the same difficulties as mine -- lack of adequate pre-college preparation, difficulty writing standard English, unwillingness to
give up memorization as a study technique, etc.
Dr. Allitt's thoughtful and dedicated approach to his teaching would be an inspiration to those considering academia as a home,
and his humanity and humor in dealing with his students could be an example to all of us in our everyday human relations.
Although I've spent 7 years in undergraduate and post-graduate education, I must admit that I've had no idea of the professor's viewpoint, apart from that of a friend or two in law schools, given long after I graduated. In fact, as I read Allitt's book, I experienced a fair amount of guilt over my undergraduate attitudes, work habits and efforts, all of which were largely of the mediocre level of which he complains. Something, however, probably the efforts of the 4 or 5 excellent professors I had, motivated me to attempt continued learning and that pursuit is exceptionally rewarding in middle age. And that heightens the sense of what I missed by not being a better student years ago.
More significantly, "I'm the Teacher" led me to realize facts about the educational process nearly 35 years after I ended my undergraduate career. In particular, I feel embarassed about my lousy attitude and the frustration which that may have caused my most able professors and I can understand how a journeyman level of writing skills can compensate for all but the most deficient motivation. If Allitt's concerns were reduced to a single level of complaint, student writing would take the cake distantly followed perhaps by geographical ignorance. All in all, I wish that I either knew then what I now know (much better so, in fact, after reading this text) or at least had the maturity to intuit it. I'm not certain that this would be extremely helpful for a late adolescent about to enter college, but if I had a mature close relative in that position I would give it a try. As a matter of thoughtful reading for pleasure for adults though, I have no question about giving the highest recommendation.
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