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March 09, 1984 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-09
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United
nations,
Big Country
Office of Major Events
Hill Auditorium
8 p.m., Saturday, March 10
By Bill Orlove
M ANY MUSIC CRITICS HAVE
called 1983 the year of the second
U.K. Invasion since the American char-
ts were dominated by a countless num-
ber of bands from across the Atlantic.
The Eurythmics, Culture Club, Span-
dau Ballet, and other synthesizer-based
bands made a heavy impact on the
music-buying consumer last year. But
there were also groups that had a
guitar-oriented and less generic sound.
One of those groups was Big Country.
And what a successful year it has
been for them. After doing extremely
well in the British Isles, guitarist and
lead singer Stuart Adamson, Tony
Butler on bass, drummer Mark Br-
zezicki, and Bruce Watson on guitar,
came to America. With their debut
album, The Crossing, and the song, "In
a Big Country," their popularity

skyrocketed. So far, the album has
gone gold, Rolling Stone's Reader's
Poll named them the best new artist of
1983, and they have received outstan-
ding reviews for both their album and
their last tour.
So how does it feel to have all this
going for them in less than a year?
"It's great because we did not really,
expect all of this to happen," said
Adamson in a recent interview.
But it took a long time to reach the
success that they have achieved.
Adamson started out as a guitarist for
the Skids during 1977's punk movement
in England. But after their third
album, Adamson decided to call it quits
with the band. He moved back home to
Dunfermline, Scotland and began to lay
down the foundations for Big Country.
The first version of the band suffered
a number of problems. One was the
inexperience of the band members that
Stuart had recruited. Another was
touring with Alice Cooper. Stuart
remembers, "It was a very bad ex-
perience and was probably the major
setback for the band."
But out of all this, Adamson was im-
pressed by the guitar playing of Bruce
Watson. After sacking the other three
members, the two began rehearsing
and writing songs.
In 1982, Watson and Adamson met up
with the rhythm section of Tony Butler
and Mark Brzezicki. The two
musicians had previously performed on
such albums as.Pete Townshend's Em-
pty Glass and All the Best Cowboys
Have Chinese Eyes, and Butler had
played on the Pretenders' "Back on the

The Crossing: Big success
Chian Gang." In need of a arummer
and a bassist, Stuart asked the two of
them to play on a demo tape for Big
Country. They agreed to do the demo
and then permanently stayed with the
band.
The demo tape went well and the

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group was immediately signed to Mer-
cury records. After a displeasing ex-
perience with producer Chris Thomas,
the group decided to try using Steve
Lillywhite, who produced U2's War
album, behind the control board. Their
first single to be issued from these
studio sessions, "Fields of Fire,"
peaked at number 10 on the British
charts. And so launched the career of
this very promising band.
Big Country is trying to establish a
different attitude towards the pairing of
success and rock and roll, besides
creating some of the freshest sounding
music in recent memory. Stuart
believes that the group's ego should not
become so big that they lose touch with
their audience. "I feel that4t's impor-
tant for a band to be close to its audien-
ce," he stated.
Maybe that's why Big Country
doesn't play huge concert halls, war-
ming up for the likes of The Who or
David Bowie. They want to achieve
success on their own terms, while still
keeping close ties with their audience.
Warming up for Big Country's show,
tomorrow night Will be the San Fran-
cisco quartet Wire Train. They have
recently released a promising album
... in a chamber on 415 records. 0
MA TH(MAJORSIMINORSI
APTITUDE) ...
You're Needed All
Over the World.
Ask Peace Corps Moth volunteers why
their degrees are needed in the class-
rooms of the world's developing norions.
Ask them why ingenuity and flexibility
are as viral as adopting to a different cul-
ture. They'll tell you their students know
Moath is the key to a solid future. And
they'll, tell you that Peace Corps adds up
to o career experience full of rewords i
and accomplishments. Ask them why I
Peace Corps is the:roughest job you'll
ever love.
IPEA CORPS

writers because the same excitement
flows over into the classroom."
Theodore Birdsall, a professor of
electrical and computer engineering
shares this attitude. "Inherent in
most research persons is that they are
never happy with most explanations,
they keep wanting to explain it better,"
Birdsall says.
But his case is unique-it shows the
conflict between a good teacher who is
in demand, and a researcher whose
work for the Navy keeps him too busy to
teach any more than one un-
dergraduate course, Analog Com-
munication.
Birdsall usually doesn't teach the
course this term, but 20 students
petitioned the department asking that
he teach the course so they could
graduate on time. Birdsall says he is
the only professor in the department
who can conduct the class because it
stems from his research, and he has not
had time to put it into a textbook.
Although Birdsall does not look over
homework or grade exams,
Engineering senior Jeffrey Hopwood
says his expertise makes the class wor-
thwhile.
"Inthe class he's teaching it sure
helps. He has brought in equipment
and actually demonstrated the prin-
ciple," Hopwood said.
"We are studying single band tran-
smission and he brought in a tape of an
actual recording of single band voice.
He has the resources to get that kind of
stuff. It's always better to get it first
hand," Hopwood says.
T HE UNIVERSITY's undergraduate
programs consistently get high
ratings in educational surveys. In a
survey of national and international
universities released in December,
Jack Gourman, as associate professor
of political science at the University of
California at Northridge, ranked the
University 3rd, behind Princeton and
Harvard.
A November U.S. News and World
Report survey ranked the University
seventh, with Stanford 1st and Harvard
2nd.
But a closer.inspection of the criteria
used in such surveys casts some doubt
on their applicability to undergraduate
instruction..
The U.S. News and World Report
survey, for example, placed the
University's undergraduate programs
7th in a category of schools which "of-
fer a wide array of programs, perform
substantial research, and grant Ph.D.'s
in a variety of fields."
With categories like that, many .feel
the surveys tell little-good or
bad-about the University's i instruc-
tional quality.
"No group is going to go around and
look at how well we teach," Gramlich
says.
"It's easy to count the number of ar-
ticles produced; it's harder to measure
how well undergraduate courses are
actually taught."
Psychology Prof. Donald Brown,
says the surveys are derived from the
"halo effect" of the school's reputation,
rather than more empirical analysis.
"There are several undergraduate
programs at Harvard that are always
rated in the top five, and people who
really know, know that they aren't wor-
th a damn," Brown says.
When Brown judges the University
himself, he gives out Bs for teaching
and As for research. "The University is
not known for the quality of teaching, it
is known for it's distinguished
scholars."
Although it is rare, Brown says the
emphasis on research is so strong that
"no one will be promoted only on the
basis of good teaching, but you could be

Office hours: The personal touch
promoted on the basis of good research
alone."
The extreme case of excellent
researcher/terrible teacher is a rarity,
according to Brown. "Usually it is
more like adequate teaching combined
with superb research."
He says course evaluations,
enrollment patterns and faculty "scut-
tlebut," all help to round out a picture
of the professor as a teacher-but an
imcomplete one.
Student reaction to professors can be
more a popularity contest than a true
gauge of skill, according to Brown.
"Students.are not privy to all the fac-
ts, they only know the teaching side,"
Brown says. "The criteria for good
teaching is not just popularity and the
particular mood of the time.
"15 years from now, when you look
back on your education, what you think
of as a great professor may be one who
mumbled in front of the chalkboard, if
he even wrote on the chalkboard at all."
A recent study by Psychology Prof.
Wilbert McKeachie, former director of
CRLT, supports Brown's belief that
research plays a much greater role
than teaching in determining faculty
promotions and salaries.
McKeachie and two research
assistants put together simulated
dossiers on professors, including per-
sonal information, research produc-
tivity, and student course evaluations.
When 12 senior faculty members
evaluated the dossiers for promotion,
McKeachie found the panel "con-
sidered research productivity to have
greater weight than teaching ability in
both the University criteria for
promotion and their own judgement."
BROWN says one of the major com-
plaints he hears at the University
concerns students unhappy with their
TAs. But Brown finds some of the
criticism unwarranted.
In the psychology department, where
most introductory courses are taught
by TAs, he says they often make better
teachers than senior professors.
Some students also find TAs more
approachable than professors. "I've
gotten more of my money's worth from
my TAs," says LSA senior Sandy
Valentine. "They had more review sec-
tions before midterms : and finals and
passed around dittos to help you out.
Professors don't usually care."
But Valentine is an exception in a
University where most students feel
they aren't paying thousands of

dollars to hear a teaching assistant.
The number of teaching assistants in
lower-division LSA courses has drop-
ped from 54 percent to 49 pereent over
the last 10 years and horror stories are
uncommon-but they're not unheard of
either.
One LSA freshwoman, who asked
that her name not be used, recalls a
calculus class she'had last term, with a
TA who hadn't had calculus since his
senior year in high school and was dif-
ficult to understand. The department
closed the section two weeks before the
midterm and placed the students into
other sections.
The Graduate Employees
Organization, which represents TAs, is
trying to ensure that TAs know
something about teaching before they
step out in front of a class. Under the
terms of their December contract with
the University, departments must
provide 13 hours of TA training starting
in the fall.
Beverly Smith, director of TA
training in the Center for Research on
Learning and Teaching, says the
program is long overdue. Some depar-
tments, like English and classical
Studies already offer excellent training
sessions, she says, but many T-As begin
teaching cold.
"I've spent a lot of time talking to
graduate students, and a lot of them go
before their classes with absolutely no
training-of course, so do professors.
"Most of the departments are set up
to be reactive rather than proactive in
training TAs," Smith says. "People
don't get credit for training TAs. It's
time-consuming and takes away from
research. The rewards system is not
set up to train TAs."
One of the biggest barriers between
students and TAs is language, par-
ticularly in math and sciences.
Despite LSA's English proficiency
requirement, established in 1982, Nan-
cy Konigsberg, a chemistry lecturer
who oversees a number of sections,
says TAs who have difficulty com-
municating in English still end up
teaching classes.
After receiving complaints about
foreign teaching assistants in several of
her classes, she said she called the
English Language Institute (ELI)
which administers the exams and found
that many of the TAs in question had
either failed the exam or received a
borderline rating in English proficien-
cy.
"Somehow, going through the

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said Konig
Sarah
research
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adds that
offered
dergradua
"The Li
phasize
graduates
Sue Bar

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4 Weekend/Friday, March 9, 1984

13 Weekc

13 Weeke

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