Excuse the Rant

Its a cold Friday Morning and I am sitting in a classroom with my fellow somnambulists. This is essentially the Kennedy School equivalent of a mandatory therapy session for substance abusers. Fortunately, this session actually makes you feel a bit better.

What the heck am I talking about?? 

We are in JP Chauvain’s review session for PED-130 Why are Some Countries Poor, Volatile, and Unequal (or Why are some MCMPA’s Tired, Frustrated, and Confused). Let me begin by saying that JP is awesome. He’s smart, a clear and concise lecturer, and he always has time to explain anything to anyone. He is the saving grace of this course.

This is a course that is part of a requirement and is very highly rated. I believe that is why so many of us are here. To be fair the topic is interesting and Professor Hausmann presents a very compelling theory of the Why.

The real issue is that the work load in this class is abusive. Last week we had a problem set that was worth 20% of our grade and I handed in 3700 words plus exhibits. This week we have another one and it will be 2500 words and worth 10%! of the grade.  In total there are 5 Problem Sets, a mid term and a Final Project. Now if this seems to be a bit aggressive, you can’t even begin to understand.

In order to successfully write these missives one must spend time with the data. Some of this data is in Beta. So not only are you negotiating long assignments, you need to get through data and technology in Beta form. Never has my Apple spent so much time with the little rainbow wheel spinning. I cant imagine what my Windows friends went through!!!! I estimate that for each hour writing, I spent 1.5-2 hours hacking around with the data.

The worst part about this is that I find that the actual learning from doing the work is minimal. To be fair this may be my pedagogical profile but Im sure that I am not alone. I have no issue staying up all night or not seeing my family to learn something. I do have issue with work for the sake of work.

Anyway, bottom line is that I didn’t come here to have one class dominate my semester to the detraction of others. This is what has happened. So when you give your reviews, think long and hard what your successors may see and how it will influence them.

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