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Salient. Newspaper of the Victoria University Students' Association. Vol 42 No. 8. April 23 1979

Students Speak Out

page 7

Students Speak Out

[unclear: week] Salient ran an article on the Econ 101 and two readers have submitted their views [unclear: is] course. It is indeed welcome to see Salient as a forum for debate on the quality and na—[unclear: nf] education at Vic. Salient encourages other [unclear: fi], both staff and students, to enter this de—either on Econ 101 or just any general [unclear: comi] they have on other courses.

[unclear: futher] to K. Gallagher's report on the Econ[unclear: irbatr], may I add the comments of an anxious [unclear: inting] student.

[unclear: the] the lectures on 3rd April Professor Bertram [unclear: ked] that the course was geared to the needs [unclear: ca] students who constitute most of the Econ[unclear: lass]. Many of these students will not be con[unclear: ns] further in the study of economics, yet they [unclear: tc] making decisions in the future based on what learned at stage 1 level.

heir need, therefore, is for a balanced [unclear: persve]. Surely it is dangerous to unleash on the ess community a series of graduates trained [unclear: rrlook] the vitally significant role unions, [unclear: nroent] and business corporations play in [unclear: ing] economic issues. Not all countries base economies on the market price system — [unclear: ve] reasonably expect, on the one hand, to with these countries whilst on the other [unclear: e] the theory on which their economic [unclear: prince] are based?

higher proportion of students who left [unclear: sc]-before the seventh form is to be found in [unclear: oinmerce] Faculty than in any other. For BCA students Economics I will be their chance to study a social science. They will, [unclear: e] other hand, be given plenty of practice [unclear: dysis] in other subjects. I feel that a [unclear: respondy] falls on the Economics Department to the university's function of expanding men-[unclear: trixons] and teaching young minds to inves— [unclear: ting] to query - not just to regurgitate narrow[unclear: ed] or irrelevant material in examinations. Maynard Keynes (who incidentally studied [unclear: tophy] at Cambridge) would have been the [unclear: o] condemn a narrow rigid approach to his, [unclear: y] other theory.

[unclear: lose] hardy or foolish enough to persevere [unclear: ige] 111 will undoubtedly reverie a fully—[unclear: led] training. Or will they? What truth is in the rumour that, as from next year, the [unclear: e] in Marxian economics is to be removed? [unclear: re] a danger that neo-classical lectures will breed yet another generation of neo-classical lectures?

If neo-classical theory is to be a useful study, it can Only be so alongside alternative approaches. An analytical tool is of no use without a realistic framework within thich to appy it.

J. Pallot.

I was interested to read K. Gallagher's article on recent developments in Economics 101 lectures (Salient, 9 April).

As a veteran Economics student, I can quite appreciate the problem that Bob Stephens and Prof. Bertram found themselves facing. There is a basic problem with the relationship of the subject matter of "Economics" to the real world, and nowhere is this more evident than in the subject of price theory.

Economics price theory is only capable through the methods of supply and demand, of giving insight into changing prices, and can tell us nothing about why prices were established in the first place. A major factor in mis, of course, is the fallacions argument about the relationship between price and the returns on capital.

But how could the poor economics teachers talk about these subjects. The whole house of cards on which what they teach might have tumbled around them. We wouldn't want to subject them to the indignity of having no job, now, would we!!

Salient recently received three short articles in which the writer records their impressions of their first Stage 1 Psychology LEcture. Salient hopes that other Psych students will write in with their comments, both on these articles, and also on the way in which the course has developed so far this year.

First Student

We sit expectantly, filling the hall to the edges, strained faces focussed on the man below us. He is talking in short clipped sentences. Words are spat like bullets from his lips. Some of them are repeated with monotonour regularity... Bad..... student......fail.....bad.....essay.....bad......marks.. bad.....work.... He tells us in this manner that many of us will fail, that we are to blame, that he and the other staff are doing the work of angels. His general attitude is that we are worth—less.

Students who have had 'experience' will pass because it is 'easy', but he implyed he could pick 50% of those that will fail right [unclear: then] simply by looking at them. I sit there, growing more and more outraged. What right has this jerk to say these things. I look at the sea of faces, many older students, attentively listening to what they know to be a true summation of the attitude of lecturers in large classes such as this. Younger students, first yean.....looking bewildered, not really knowing what they have stumbled into, disoriented, bewildered, alone. Although I know that markers in the situation that these lectures are in are inevitably defensive towards students, (they know how arbitrary and invalid and unreliable their procedures of assessment are) I fail to see how they have the gall to stand up and not only state an indefensible attitude, but to justify it by evincing totally negative attitudes towards those least capable of defence - first year students in large impersonal classes, in a subject with which they have never dealt with before. The lecturer has all the time been droning on, he tells us that we will reguritate what we are fed 'in the same form and as nearly the same order as we received it'; that another problem group are those 'who think that they have something to offer psychology' and that 'you might as well face the fact that you will make no contribution towards discussion in the subject for at least three years.....so much for orientation.

Second Student

The poor screwed up lecturer that introduced Psyc 101 was a fine example of a screwed up lecturer. His case was a bad one. You can tell the type by the way they dress - in black suits, how they speak - negatively, what they say - rubbish, and how they hold attention - they don't. Anyone who sat through this first lecture can vouch for the actual content of the rubbish.

He informed us:
I)A large proportion of us were going to fail.
II)He could see from where he was standing (approx. 2-15 metres) the idiots "the ones who, through lack on enthusiam or general intelligence were going to fail.
III)Students with average or below B bursa—rics were in this category and were doomed for failure.

It was not a pleasant or encouraging introduction. In one hour this guy stripped bare any hopes of success in the subject, and any desire to learn that was floating around, died. His attitude was uninspiring, negative and totally in acceptable in an institution of higher learning.

My question is, how do maladjusted individuals get to lecture 'normal' students? Surely they are some people of his own species who could chanel his talent somewhere else, where it would be appreciated. Would anybody with any practical sugestion please inform him.

And is there a clause of students rights protecting the emotional well being of first year student? as they are particularly vunerable and are: often inexperienced with such severe cases.

Third Student

Very few people are happy presenting themselves in front of a large crowd, and lecturers are no exception. The 'style' a lecturer adopts is a strategy that allows him to cope with the stress of exposing himself to hordes of strangers. Very often this 'style' will take the form of a sort of detached cynicism; a seemingly collous disregard for the cells in the faceless hive humming about him. If he's not interested in their performance, maybe they won't be too interested in his.

Psychology lecturers have a further problem in this regard. Many people taking Stage 1 Psychology are after an easy 12 credits, and are not prepared to invest anything more in the subject than is required to pass. Furthermore they are often academic voyeurs, eagerly awaiting some titillating fact about human behaviour, some stimulating tit-bit about themselves that they can amuse thir friends with and they are usually disappointed.

This disappointment turns to resentment which any lecturer of any sensitivity (and there are a few) can tell. Thus a vicious negative feedback loop is created in which generations of apathetic and often hostile Stage 1 students force the lecturer to adopt a defensive posture, and to retreat behind a mask of amused indifference. As with any actor who plays a part for too long, a lecturers personality will merge with the image he projects. Innocent Stage 1 students, eagerly awaiting their 1st dose of The Secrets of Human Nature, and shocked by the full frontal assault on their preconceptions by the lecturer, and this, not unnaturally, colours their subsequent behaviour. And so the cycle goes on.