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Welcome to the start of a new semester!! My records show that you are registered in my section of Racial and Ethnic Groups. I thought I would welcome you a little bit early instead of waiting until the first day of class. And, for the students who are new to campus, I want to welcome you to Viterbo as well! I am hoping we will have a great semester together.
I think Racial and Ethnic Groups is a great course for any student to take. All of us can benefit from a better understanding of the differences in society as we go through life trying to make sense of our own behavior or that of friends, family, lovers, co-workers, politicians - whoever! Everyone needs to be able to critically evaluate the claims concerning the difference between cultures and the challenges inherent in working towards an understanding.
Many of you, raising children - now or in the future - will be better prepared with some understanding of how people are different and in this difference is where our strength as a nation lies. Many of you, in one way or another, will cross paths with someone who does not look like, act like or speak like you do. It is for that reason that understanding the differences is meaningful.
You can use what you learn in my course to improve your understanding of people and in a way improve your life !
Race (for short) has been taken by many students at Viterbo. Now I know you may have your doubts about a class that is online as opposed to the normal class. It is easy to feel lost in the crowd, to think your participation is not important, and to assume you are on your own if you start to have problems. That is not the case here! I may not learn to associate many faces with names, but I do care about how you are doing, I applaud your efforts, and enjoy getting to know as many of you as I can. I welcome office visits, telephone calls and e-mail.
(I am a very early morning person. Typically over the course of the semester you will receive various emails from me answering your questions usually around 4:30 am as I am in the fitness center at 5:00 am....kind of bi-polar, but that is another story.
I will do what I can to make our class a comfortable place so that you feel free to speak up. (Remember - nearly everyone here is just as new and as anxious as you!) I welcome questions and asking questions is one way to ensure I get to know you. Fight passivity! Let's make it feel like a smaller class. Become involved and you will have much better retention of the material. You'll get so much more out of college if you are not just a listener!
Remember Robin Williams in "Dead Poet's Society"? "Carpe diem!" (Seize the day -or, in this case, seize your education!).
While I feel like we can work together to make even our huge class a friendly and involving place, one thing that's more difficult to do is to design a course that "fits" all students. If our class is like most others, about half of you have already had a sociology class in high school or college, while about half are brand new to the subject. Some who took sociology had excellent courses that were the equivalent of a college course (although often spread over a whole school year), whereas others took a course that only covered a small amount of the content we will be tackling this semester.
What this means is that inevitably sometimes we are going too slow for more experienced students or too fast for others. Many students who got by with memorizing definitions in high school may find test questions that ask you to apply your understanding to real-life situations pretty challenging, while others will find our multiple choice tests too simplistic. Realizing these difficulties I can only write I will try my best to teach an understandable, yet challenging course suited both for those who may never take another sociology class in their lives and those who may go on to major or minor in sociology.
Students new to college often don't realize that now they must become independent learners, studying actively to learn from texts, because there is not enough classroom time to present all the knowledge and skills of a typical college course. Think about it - if you took a college-level (AP) sociology course in high school, you would usually spend about 180 class periods with your sociology teacher. But that is almost unheard of at colleges and universities.
Instead, we have about 7 weeks together and a great deal of learning (about 135 class periods worth) must occur outside the classroom when you are reading and working with text material. Our book is written in a conversational style that is easy to read. I think you will really like it. You are responsible for completing assigned reading. You will need a minimum of 2 hours per module (chapter) and additional time to do the study aids in the text
and online (practicing in as many ways as possible is recommended!). It is highly recommended that you map out a regular study schedule for your classes and try to stick to it.
There are various learning aids. Learning how to study and learn is very important in college since you do so much learning on your own. I am excited about the new semester and hope we will have a lively class even if we are online. Expect the unexpected! I look forward to our discussions and class activities.
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