SCRAPS FROM THE
These are excerpts from a regular column in The Vector
unofficial, and unheralded publication I edited during my years
teaching at Lock Haven University. In response to overwhelming
demand (a couple of people at least) these are being archived here
for those strange people who enjoy wallowing in nostalgia.
Some of the references to then-current events may be puzzling, but
feel free to skip them, or relate them to more recent events of similar
nature (which can always be found). References to internal politics
at Lock Haven University may be easily transferred to situations at other
academic institutions. A few explanatory comments have been added in
Vol. 1 No. 1. Dec. 1976
FIRST ISSUE OF THE VECTOR
You are holding in your hands the premiere issue of a new campus publication,
THE VECTOR, surely destined to become a collector's item...
The name VECTOR has multiple significances. Vectors are, of course, mathematical
entities which every engineer and physicist must learn to love. But the hame has
more subtle implications. THE VECTOR could serve as a force on campus,
providing students with direction; and it might skewer some sacred cows,
prick some sensibilities, and puncture some egos.
A professor recently received an official-looking memo in the morning mail.
Discovering it was not addressed to him, he initialed it and sent it on to
the administrative office for which it was intended.
The next day he got it back with this note attached: "This document did
not concern you. Please erase your initials and initial your erasure."
CAMPUS NEWS AND NOTES
- President Hamblin has just announced that in honor of the many
achievements of Sir Isaac Newton in
the field of Physics, all classes at Lock Haven State College will
be cancelled this year on Newton's
- Dr. Zaharis has just been appointed director of the campus
fund-raising drive for Planned Parenthood.
Several of his nine children will assist him in this worthy effort.
- Word has just come through that several Polish exchange
students will be on our campus next year. It
is suggested that we do two things to make them feel welcome: (1)
Be sure that all calculators in science
labs have reverse Polish notation, and provide a mirror to read
them with, and (2) declare a moratorium on
all Polish jokes.
AN INNOVATIVE DEGREE PROPOSAL
Our college has introduced a degree in General Studies (which some have
been unkind enough to call "a degree in Nothing.") The degree is innovative, but doesn't go
far enough. We therefore propose a new degree program in the same spirit, but further
liberalizing the old-fashioned curricula: a degree in Trivial Studies.
In the past, traditional degrees have been criticized for producing
specialists who "know more and more about less and less." Our Trivial Studies degree will
turn this trend around 180° and produce generalists who "know a little about everything
and not much about anything." While there will be no required courses, special courses will
be developed in the spirit of the program. A typical four-year program might look
something like this:
Math 0.001 Introduction to Elementary Addition
Biol 22 How to tell the Birds from the Flowers
Phys Ed. 3 Philosophy of Sports in Ancient Greece
Eng 10 How to Tell Jokes (Clean)
Math 0.002 Elementary Addition
Mus 88 Listening to Rock Music
Anthro 77 Sex Practices in Remote Cultures
HIST 42 The Lighter Side of the Spanish Inquisition
Eng 11 How to Tell Jokes (Dirty)
Math 0.003 Intermediate Addition
Aero Eng 41 Aerospace Workshop
(Bring sufficient paper for five planes.)
Ed 400 Advanced Methods of Blackboard Use
Psych 350 Novel Ways to Torture Rats
Math 0.004 Advanced Addition
Phys 500 Quantum Mechanics Without Math
Chem 99 Chemistry of Illegal Drugs
Soc Sci4O Human Sexuality Practicum (lab science credit)
Students shall be expected to supply their own lab equipment.
We are assured this proposal will easily pass the curriculum
committee (on the basis of past practice.) But first, several problems
must be solved. Which college department shall have jurisdiction over
the program? The School of Health and Recreation is making a strong
case that it should be in their domain, since they already offer the
greatest number of courses appropriate to the program. But as we wish
to avoid specialization in any one area, we propose it be put under the
direct control of a person most experienced in dealing in triviality.
Surely one of our administrators will qualify; applications will be
accepted immediately upon program approval.
And finally, the rules demand that all proposed
new courses be supported with complete syllabi,
prepared in the approved format, with catalog descriptions.
Our readers are invited to submit
catalog descriptions of courses in the spirit of
this program. The best will be printed in future
[Update and explanation, 2002.
Back in 1976 when this was written, LHU had begun offering a summer
aerospace workshop, which still exists. The faculty was considering
proposals for curricular reform which would have allowed any depertment
to offer courses satisfying broad requirements in any academic
field. The Phys Ed Department was already considering a course in history
of sport to satisfy the history requirement. Various versions of similar
curriculum satires and parodies circulated widely at many schools at that
time as the movement to dummy-down courses and curricula gained momentum.]
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