Sudent Comments on ECO350K
- Political Economy of Education-
Spring 2008

These are all the written comments made by students in their course evaluations: the good, the bad and the ugly.

"I am so fortunate. If I go astray, others are certain to notice it." - Confucius

"A refreshing, new way to approach a subject. The professor had everyone in the class thinking for themselves and formulating their own viewpoints and ideas, rather than just listening to a professor lecture the entire time. He also challenged the students to prove or back up their opinions."

"I took this class not being entirely sure of its content. Now that we are at the end of the semester I am glad I took it. Positive aspects of this class include: open discussion in class, few written assignments, freedom to alter the methodology of the class (suggest readings, change the discussion forum ex: web discussion), an instructor who is knowledgeable of the material and will explain it in laymen's terms with no personal inconvenience. In future classes, perhaps the readings could be less broad, or just fewer of them. I feel as thought the class did not spend enough time on any individual reading. I think we could have spent the entire semester on 10-12 readings and become extremely familiar with those readings. (At least one reading per week to allow those who were unable to participate in discussion Tuesday would have an opportunity Thursday without being rushed into discussion of the next reading."

"I thoroughly enjoyed taking this class. I was opened up to a new way of thinking which was the opposite of what I had always been taught. Although quiet throughout class, this class will be one of the most valued educational courses that I will probably take. I have obtained a great deal from this course and hope that future students have the opportunity to do the same. As for the quiet students, like myself, we have been taught to listen, obey, and follow rules. The structure of the class was 100% different than our "regular" learning. The teaching was completely beneficial and we will learn from it in the future. The shy, quiet, and reserved personalities will slowly break free of their shells, but still will take time"

"The beginning of the course is a bit difficult/uncomfortable due to the lack of parameters on the homework assignments. I feel that discussions are a bit intimidating, especially at the beginning of the class. This got better as the class progressed. Although grading policy in general was a greatly discussed topic, it would have been more settling to have a more definitive grading policy. In the beginning of the course it was rather hard to see where the course was headed, and thus very discouraging."

"The material is difficult and there is a lot of it, but the work required is manageable in that it relied on thought, and provoking yourself to think. While the lack of specific instruction as to the nature of assignments was a bit off setting at first, the freedom to express ideas in more than one acceptable way was great. My only suggestions progress within and with critical evaluation."

"Thanks so much, this course has really changed my outlook on learning, education and the life (cliché I know but sorry it has)."

"Coming from classes that are highly structured this class is definitely a change of pace. Once adjusted to it can be very beneficial."

"Did not enjoy this course. Little direction and uncertainty of goals for this course. I would not recommend this course to anyone unless they truly enjoyed education exploration with little guidance. The vibe of the class and lecture was not conducive to class discussion, ie. Classroom set-up, lectures demeanor, dry subjects, and level of interest on student's part. Least enjoyed political eco. Education philosophers because they were all rich, white men discussing how it looks bad, white men discussing how it looks bad but never present a solution. Illich was interesting, however. Need more direction, Cleaver students like this."

"The structure lent itself to forcing us to question. By the end of the class, we were guided to question various assumptions about schooling. One-on-one questioning during classes challenged us wondering if more small group format allow for student to conversation (without power of professor)."

"Future students: this course is extremely unconventional and to really get something substantial out of it, you should be prepared to work and think in an unconventional way. Do NOT take this course for an easy A, a place holder credit, or just because nothing else looked good. Do not take this course if you do not wish to speak often in class. Doing so in those circumstances would be frustrating for you and burden on your fellow participants. That being said, this is an excellent course that will challenge the way that you think about and participate in education and schooling. Dr. Cleaver is extremely knowledgeable and an excellent resource for you to take advantage of on your own personal journey of intellectual exploration. In order to thrive in this course you should be willing to read a lot of original sources, evaluate them critically, speak up often, and engage constructively in complex discussions. You should be prepared to have all of your thinking about school and education challenged by the material itself, and maybe even face profound sadness that the system in which you've labored your whole life has betrayed you."

"Although at times the reading can become a bit of burden with other class loads but the material and the understanding I took from them, was interesting. It wasn't what I expected from this class in the sense that we really dove into the material. Although I don't have a full and complete understanding of all readings, I feel that this course has opened a new way of looking at the educational system."

"During the course of the semester, there have been some topics that you have been rather neutral on and others where you have strongly aligned yourself with your Marxist ideals. From my vantage point it seems like you are a pure Marxist who has ruled out the possibility of any other ideology, and while that may or may not be the case, it certainly comes off that way. I feel that it is because of this that on the topics where you do hold firm Marxist beliefs, people fear sharing their beliefs that differ from yours and going head-to-head with you. I have seen this numerous times in class where a student will bring an argument that contradicts what you have said, and then you respond and they raise the white flag."

"Thanks professor Cleaver, I really enjoyed the class. I think it challenged everyone to re-think what they thought about education. I think this is the kind of class that will change how people think about the university and schooling in general. I liked reading original material and having class discussion. One of the most interesting thinks is to see how other people think. The note-taking idea to keep track and help you appropriate the material was a good idea, but too time consuming. There should be some compromise so that students are challenged to think about the material but the workload isn't so high. Overall, excellent class. One of the best I've had at the university."

"This is an interesting class, given that you're interested in education, and all education entails. (Purpose, means, alternatives, etc.) solid amount of reading, and limited instruction regarding what our notes are supposed to look like, go over, etc. No tests is nice, and a great class for conversation. Again, I wouldn't take this class unless you have an interest in education, and like to talk a lot as Cleaver really seems to want the students to talk a lot/lead the class. I don't as of now, knew how the class was graded or I'd have some commenting there too."

"15. The instructor inspired me to think more about the content of the course than what was required." This question really sums up a big chunk of the class. I have never really had to do this in other courses, unfortunately. This course is a transformation of the mind. Unfortunately, the span of one semester is not adequate. This course has inspired me to continue my studies of the education system and the topic of education itself. The inclusion of grad students in the course help more the discussion, I believe, as they are more prone to begin and continue a discussion than an undergrad student, who is basically trained to be loyal to the banking model. If I could, I would wrangle up all of my old teachers, principals, and other "facilitators" and bring them to this class or at least make them aware of the literature which I am sure they have never ever read. The creation of the wiki allows for an awesome venue of communication, and it has probably been the thing I most liked about the course. Although professor Cleaver may be a bit intimidating at times due to his vast knowledge of many objectives, it does spur the student to begin to question and "dissect" the ideas presented in class for themselves. I can definitely take what I have learned here and utilize it on a daily basis from here on out. I will definitely continue my wiki action and try to uphold this course's continuation. More courses like this one should be offered. Maybe more professors should also get involved in the discussions as well."

"Dear future students (and Dr. Cleaver) ECO350K is a thoroughly entertaining class if you enjoy thinking; it is a painful class if you hate reading; it is just going to be an ambiguous mess that is just slightly different from other classes (beyond the ambiguity that is) IF you (and your classmates) don't take the initiative to make this class what you want it to be. Ps. You can't make it a blow-off."

"Allowing us as a class to choose our path and follow our curiosity was the best aspect of the course, though with democratic processes someone must be in the minority. Perhaps encouraging the development of groups, classes within the class would develop and allow for even more freedom in choice of study. Of the content we covered, I still enjoyed the early economist and philosophers the most, though I came to appreciate much of the other material as well. I think the wiki is working well, but I wish someone or myself would have take the initiative sooner. On some days, when discussion was going strong, class didn't seem long enough."

"Great teacher, gave me the chance to make comeback."