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March 08, 1985 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-03-08
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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TAs
(Continued from Page 3)
the TA's, according to Mathematics
Department Chairman Donald Lewis.
"There's no doubt there are a few
problems, but there are a few problems
with American kids too," Lewis said.
"If you look at the typical student they
can't ask a question in a complete
English sentence," said the 24-year
veteran math professor.
Lewis said he has been in classes
where the students expect a teacher to
sound just "like morn and dad," and
when they don't the student complains
about being unable to understand.
Another problem is the cultural gap
that exists between foreign TAs and
American students. Wilbert
McKeachie, a researcher for CRLT,
sais the key to learning is understan-
ding what's in the mind of the teacher.
"If you're going to build that bridge you
have to know the metaphors" and other
parts of the other person's culture.
In the calculus and math classes,
language is not the major problem, said
Lewis. "Mathematics is almost culture
free... the problem is of a different
nature" in his department.
There is a culture shock of sorts for
foreign TAs because of the low level of
mathematics learning in America
in comparison to their home countries,
Lewis said.
Professor Wilfred Kaplan concurred.
"Someone coming here form another
country... even an English speaking
country.. may take a while to catch on.
That's independent of the language."
Some students, like LSA junior Den-
nis Miriani, said the langauge barrier is
a significant problem in math classes.
"You could tell that he knew what he
was doing," said Miriani of his Oriental
Calculus 115 TA. "He just did not speak
English well enough to tell you what he
was doing so you could understand."
LSA sophomore Beth Kampner
reported a similar problem with her
foreign TA for Calculus 115. "I couldn't
understand a word she said. If we asked
her a question she would point to the
board because she couldn't explain."
Despite problems with experience
and language, TA's get high ratings
from fauclty around the University. -
"They're excellent teachers. By and
large they do an excellent job," said
Mark Chesler, associology professor.
Hard work and a good rapport with the
students are the basis of Chesler's
favorable rating.
"I think TAs are capable of doing
terrific jobs," said psychology Prof..
Richard Mann, who has evaluated
every psychology course offered in the
past five years. "I see no evidence that
the faculty teach better than TAs," he
said.
While their young age makes it dif-
ficult to come to the job with prior ex-
perience, being just a few years older
than the students also helps the TAs.
"Ont of the advantages they have is
that they are closer to the students in
age," said former TA William Alexan-
der, and English professor and student
counselor. "They're from the same
decade."
"In terms of being concerned about
students, receptive to students, TAs do
a better job. They (students) are closer.
to TAs," Mann said.

For faculty members, experience
and language rarely cause
problems. But to implement Steiner's
plan faculty would have to teach in-
troductory and basic classes,
something they may not want to do.
Professional researchers may not
want to trade research time for
classroom duties, and being an accom-
plished researcher does not necessarily
imply being a good teacher.
"I think that an experienced faculty
member has the potential to be a better
teacher... because the experienced
faculty has experience in research,"
said Jack Meiland, LSA dean for long
range planning. "The job of a resear-
cher is to acquire, interpret. and
evaluate information, and that is what
we are trying to teach our students."
But the researcher may not be the
answer to undergraduate woes, said
Mann. "The assertion of the University
is that the better a researcher you are,
the better a teacher you are." Mann
said he has seen researchers appear in
class, lecture, and leave in a rush
without talking with students.
"An essential ingredient of good
teaching is you're willing to make the
personal sacrifice" to take the time to
think through the rationale of the class
and care about students. TAs spent that
kind of time, Mann said.
"Where you haveTAs doing their own
(lecture) they tend to do as well as
(faculty) as far as the students are con-
cerned," Mann explained.
Kulik maintains that the level of
faculty teaching at the University is
quite good, based on the student
evaluations. The students give the best
ratings to the professors from whom
they learn the most, not those that are
the most entertaining, he said.
The biggest question facing Steiner is
whether professors will be willing to
sacrifice research time to teach. For
that to happen, a major change would
have to occur at the Univer-
sity-teaching and research would
have to be rewarded equally.
According to Jack Walker, associate
dean for academic appointments, that
has already happened. "We've put a lot
more emphasis on teaching at the Un-
iversity," and there are minimum
standards for both teaching and
researching achievements, he said.
"I believe teaching is slowly
becoming more important," said
Rajeeve Samantrai, an LSA senior and
a member of LSA's Blue Ribbon Com-
mission, which is doing long range
planning for the college.
For those in the field, however; that
does not seem to be happening. Top
research is still the primary
requirement for raises and appoin-
tments.
"They may say it... but I've been in
too many cases where people have been
denied promotions or first appointment
at the University because
their research is not the top," said
Kaplan.
"They start with research...
(teaching) is sort of an afterthought,"
he added.
"This is a feeling one has... listening
to colleages,(talk) about what they're
judged on," said Konigsberg. "It's
clear in our department (chemistry)
that the person in research will have a
huge salary."
The "publish or perish" attitude is
alive and well at the University, accor-
ding to Alexander. He said research

I

back on as last resort. I'll reserve final
judgment for a live appearance, but
Frontier ,Days is utterly bland in a
genre where you can't afford to be.
NOW HERE'S the real stuff.
Shameless garage revivalists,
the Gravedigger V do the only in-
telligent thing and wallow like pigs in
the limitations they've set for them-
selves. This is the best caveteen release
since The Pandoras' debut last year,
and indeed when he does the inevitable
throat-destroying 'OWWWW's!" lead
singer/guitarist Ted Friedman is not
exactly easy to discern from The Pan-
doras' cantankerous-sounding Paula
Pierce. Songs like the title tracks and
"Night of the Phantom" feature a
highly agreeable obsession with E.C.
Comix juvenile-horrortstuff, while
"She's a Cur" delivers the final word
("I'm all through with you now/You're
nothin' at all") these perma-stalled
adolescents have on girls and mush-
stuff. The songs are all pretty good, and,
needless to say, in Voxx mainstay Greg
Shaw's sharp, excellent produciton
there are enough big-fuzz guitar soun-
ds, tambourines, maracas and poun-
ding party-at-my-parents'-house dance
beats to get all you garagophiles from
fruggin' pronto. Liner notes inform that
"Their humor and teen pranks kept
everyone in good spirits during the long
hours of recording and mixing. The V
actually slept in an alley and ate
nothing but Tail O' the Pup chilidogs
during the three-day session," and also,
more sadly, that the group has since
gone to Divorce Court. Oh well - at this
point in time, at least, there's one
(garage outfit) born every minute.
Still, this is superfine vinyl. Essential
buying for genre fans only, I suppose,
but definitive.
T HE MUSIC Machine are a pretty
much forgotten short success
story of the classic L.A. psychedelic
punk period of the mid-60's. They to an
extent explain their subsequent ob-

scurity, but also prove unusually in-
teresting in this Rhino rummage
through the archives. The recordings
and instrumental approaches don't
initially sound very, sophisticated -
though the band was highly progressive
for its age, devising early versions of
the fuzz box and 10-track recording
machine - and their songs are at times
no better or worse than the mean
product of better garage bands like The
Shadows of Knight. The difference lies
in the sensibility singer/composer Sean
Bonniwell brought to the band. At a
point where most other real rock outfits
were spitting out stuff that dealt with
teen-romance/on-the-run topics no
more daring than your average
American International action pic (you
know, the usual grade-B Wild One
stuff), the Music Machine must have
seemed threateningly serious. They
thought about things; there's a
definite if groping philosophy of life
going on here, a pre-Summer Of Love
call for revolution from the Establish-
ment. Tunes like "The People in Me"
find Bonniwell confronting the
schizophrenia behind juve alienation,
and other songs aim fairly bitter
satirical darts at pollution, education
and general human stupidity. The sen-
timents may not seem overwhelmingly
original now, but with their all-black
outfits, dyed-black hair and grey-to-
black view of the world, The Music
Machine must have seemed pretty
scary. The physical image, lyric
imagery and Bonniwell's Svengali
leadership (he wrote the LP's liner
notes, and obviously 20 years haven't
diminished his ego) are strongly an-
ticipatory of The Doors, a feeling that
gets downright unnerving amid some of
the distinctive organ sounds and
unusually theatrical, full-throated
vocals. Many of the songs are sur-
prisingly ahead of their time musically
as well, like the disturbingly sinuous
"Come On In," and the tensely
beautiful Grass Roots/Turtles-type pop
of "Absolutely Positively." The last

tour tracks nave never before been
released, and two of them are startling.
"Black Snow" does the whole
Creem/Hendrix/etc. dirge-bluesrock
thing probably well before they thought
of it, while "Dark White" is a rather ex-
traordinary epic, of ascendency - a
flower-out that has no need for
specifically 'psychedelic' effects. The
Best of the Music Machine is uneven,
but the potential it shows and oc-
casionally fulfills makes this band
easily one of the most fascinating of
recently rediscovered '60's talents.
L .A.'s Dream Syndicate drew
mixed reviews from their
established fans and probably won over
no few new ones with the shift to a more
broad-based, rockier appeal on their
2nd Medicine Show album. To me it
seemed a bit of a turn for the worse, but
then the Syndicate has never been a
personal fave. This five-song EP must
be the first time in recent years that a
major label has released a live disc of a
performance by a band that was just
the opening act that night (R.E.M.
headlined, last July 7 in Chicago), and
indeed the tape was originally intended
for local radio broadcast only. The
tracks justify the label's decision; the
band is in fine, confident form, doing
numers that are extended to just the
right length. The hit "Tell Me When It's
Over" preserves its Human Switch-
boardish, vaguely folksy pop angst, and
the other cuts demonstrate the Syn-
dicate's ability to hold attention easily
with song narratives that have a
Dylanesque knackifor catchingvthe
right detail. The playing thoughout is
excellent - air-guitar talents should
stop aping Eddie Van Halen and turn to
Karl Precoda instead. On the other
hand, the addition of Tommy Zvon-
check's very busy acoustic piano does
and doesn't work (when it doesn't, the
Syndicate sounds disturbingly like the
Bob Seger Band), and Steve Wynn's
reeling-wino vocals will either impress
you as true garage abandonment or

aepress you
can't work up
band, respe
juggle eleme
increasingly
tfully edges t
say I like the
Dream Syndic
while; they
themselves fa
V OLUI
Diamo
Band Music,'
formations o
60's band var
IV, Furys, (
Entertainers.
from barely p
tures surf i
psyche-blues
There are oc
(like the title
meant to be j
ds), but the g
to serious '60
'band' reache
when Paul .
picked up the
their 2nd (
Raiders' vers
only thanks to
the handclaI
preferable.)
sound quality
much fodder
students thi
dissertation o
bands of the
album has
souvenir of da
liner-note rea
the colorful
desert and
shops."

TA's : today's university depends on them

takes the upper hand. "Absolutely.
They'll say it isn't... all of us who have
been through (the process) know if you
haven't published, the odds of getting
that promotion... are very, very
small."
A University teaching assistant, who
asked not be identified, said faculty will
not teach undergraduate courses,
becuase of the pressure to publish.
"The faculty's career is (dependent)
on what they publish, and they are not
going to publish if they have to grade
300 midterms and finals," the TA said.
"There's a lot of pressure to
publish... I get the strong impression
that if they don't publish a book at least
once every two years or an article once
a year... they're not going to get
tenure."
Faculty become totally absorbed
with their research work, according to
Konisberg. "It's an unusual person that
can do top-notch research without put-
ting a lot of time in. The time left over is
usually spent applying for more grants,
" she said. "It's almost as if the
classroom gets in the way."
Whenever a position opens up,
however, the slot goes to a new resear-
cher.
The emphasis on research is also
demonstrated in the hiring of faculty.
"Up at the (administrative) level you
hear that the undergraduates are more
and more important," said Mann. But
this is a time of scarce resources and
the few open slots are filledsby people
who can help in research, he said.
"I don't know anybody who has been
hired in the last five years who has un-
dergraduate teaching as their primary
concern," Mann added. "There's no
money to go with their talk. All the
money they have is being grabbed by
the research types."
"Departments don't get famous
nationwide for good undergraduate
teaching-they get famous for the
superstars."
Even if the researchers can be pulled
out of the labs and the libraries, they
may not all be top notch teachers.
"There are outstanding researcher

that you might have to make some
sacrifices for and give them mainly a
research appointment," said Kaplan.
Another problem the University may
face is finding professors interested in
teaching at lower levels instead of the
more stimulating junior, senior, and
graduate courses.
"It's not a question of research time
vs. class time," said Kaplan, but level
vs. level. "A third or so (of the faculty)
prefer not to teach elementary classes"
because they are less interesting.
Steiner's proposition of replacing
teaching assistants with professional lec-
turers, despite his distaste for a two-
class faculty, is certainly more
popular.
We need to get new teaching slots for
educators, said Konigsberg. "I think
that when it comes to teaching you need
a good feeling for the field and teachers
who are really interested in the lear-
ning process and teaching."
"We need some systematic hiring of a
teaching (professor)," said Mann. But
it's going to cost money, he notes.
A move to enhance the un-
dergraduate education should be
prompted from above, Kaplan said.
The Administration should "tell the
whole faculty (to be) interested in im-
proving the undergraduate
education-to have that is the main
thing and we have never received that
message."
That message may soon start to cir-
culate, if Steiner is serious about his bid
to improve undergraduate education.
If he is, faculty would rather see more
"teachers" than have teaching
assignments shuffled.
"We need to push it all the other way,
to people who would be solely
teachers," Konigsberg said. Such
people should be hired to update depar-
tmental curriculum, deal with students,
supervise TAs, and teach.
Give the position a good salary, make
it prestigious, and give equal credit for
teaching and research, and current
faculty will be interested in the
position, Konigsberg said confidently
Jackson is a Daily staff writer.

co
any bc
ExpirE
D

A

MON
NOC

Del Lords: adequate but uninspired

4 Weekend/Friday, March 8, 1985

Weekend/Friday,

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