George Tolley ’88 sent in these comments:
Been away from the blog for a while, and came back to find — to my indescribable joy and amusement — that you have managed to keep it going, and going strong. Bravo. For a moment, I thought your comments on the College’s quarter-million dollar donation to Mt. Greylock were dead on point. Then I read Jocelyn’s thoughtful comments . . . and quickly realized that I am much happier when I am not agreeing with you wholeheartedly. :-) As for Williams classes over 50 students, I think you are a little too categorical in your objection. Did you take Art History 101? Large lectures have a place in higher education. As a math geek at heart, I’d have never, ever read Faulkner in my life if I hadn’t taken English 216 (Introduction to the Novel, taught, inter alia, by former Dean Fix), a very popular lecture class with 100 students in the auditorium at least. Not to mention all the introductory math and science courses that are quite well-suited to a large lecture format.
1) Try as I might, I have been unable to convince George to join the Blog. I have a vague idea that the appropriate model going forward is something along the lines of the Volokh Conspiracy, but that will require some more volunteers with less than trying day jobs.
2) I did take ARTH 101-102. Although it is possible to teach that class as a large lecture, it is highly desirable. Who would argue that smaller classes wuld be worse? Students would ask more questions. Professors would get better feedback. More learning would occur. Although they may, perhaps, be economic reasons why the college has no choice but to have some large lectures, there is no pedagogical reason for them.