Friday, April 13, 2012

My Academics at the U of G

I only have two weeks of classes left!

If you remember, classes were very slllloooooowwwwww to get started, and there was a strike in March, meaning no classes for another week. While I'm excited for the close of the semester, I have to say I'm a little disappointed to see classes end...we were just starting to settle into a rhythm! 

Here's a little more about each of my classes.

 Twi, 5 person class
My Twi class is most similar to what I'm used to in the United States, it's on par with introductory language classes I have taken in the past. I think this is primarily because learning a language requires a pretty standard procedure and lots of repetition/practice. This is my only class with weekly homework assignments, quizzes, and tests. The professor is truly fantastic, my favorite here, without a doubt. He is quiet well known throughout Ghana and West Africa for his work with Akan Linguistics. He received his PhD in Norway, spent time at Ohio University, and also speaks Russian. All in all, he is a really impressive guy. In class, you can tell he really enjoys teaching, he has fun with it and with us. He's also a huge jokester, which I really appreciate. 

 Music of Southern Africa, 12 person class
I've found this class interesting because I knew next to nothing about music or Southern Africa at the start of the semester. For the same reason, I've also found it a bit hard follow. When I take notes, I star and circle a lot of things to look up later. The professor is pretty straight forward. He has switched the time of the class on several occasions and usually shows up at least a few minutes late. In my opinion, he has a bit of the "I'm the professor, you are the students" superiority complex. I've written two papers in this class, the first defining southern Africa as a geocultural region, and the second on the general musical traits among the Nguni and Sotho peoples.

 History of Ghana in the 19th and 20th Centuries, 100 person class
I have really enjoyed the topics we've covered in this class: abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, abolition of indigenous slave trade and slavery, the Asante and Fante Wars, Christian missionary activity, the history of formal education, the growth and spread of British influence, early nationalist activities, and the attainment of independence. I've had two professors for this class, the first started with abolition of slavery and the second picked up at nationalist activities. Classes under the first professor were PAINFUL, they consisted of her reading out loud from our handouts. This seemed like a huge waste of everybody's time. I really like the second professor, he doesn't use handouts and he doesn't read directly from his notes. Instead, he engages the class and uses the whiteboards. There have been no grades thus far. There was a midterm scheduled, but the first professor cancelled it because she didn't want to grade so many essays.

 Poverty and Rural Development, 100 person class
This class is really dry. It's the same each week, the professor reads word for word from his powerpoint. I really like all of the topics, in fact, this is probably the class in which I have the most interest, but it is so difficult to sit there and listen for TWO HOURS. We've looked at the UN Millennium Development Goals, rationale for rural development, explanatory models for rural poverty, the state's role in rural development, rural development in the context of education and health care, and more. The class is specific to Ghana, but also applies to many other areas in Africa and elsewhere in the world. No grades yet, so like History, my fate is with the final!

 Islam in Ghana, 40 person class
My professor is a Muslim, so he has some unique commentary on the wide reaching influence of Christianity here in Ghana. The beginning of the course focused on historical issues in the origin of Islam in Ghana. These lectures involved a lot of names/places that were very foreign to me. Fun fact, Islam in Ghana, unlike most religions, started inland and spread to the coast. Now, we are learning about contemporary issues in the Muslim community, things like Islam and national politics and Hajj operations in Ghana. I prefer these types of topics. There are only a few Muslims in the class, I feel horrible because the professor constantly picks on them and essentially implies they aren't "good" Muslims. The final is the only grade in the class.

I only have two major qualms with classes here, and they aren't related to the material or professors.

1) Two hour classes are horrible. There are numerous studies on attention span that show this is not an effective way to learn.

2) The final is make or break...hopefully my finals go well!

A few weeks ago, I registered for my Fall 2012 classes at VT. I'm almost a senior...not sure I'm ready for that!

1 comment:

  1. I'm not ready for you to be a senior...because that means I'm old :0(