So, having completed the first week of our brand new intro to the major class, I’m feeling pretty good about things. First, it’s so exciting to teach a class that is populated only with majors and to give them a better sense of what it actually means to major in English (because, as I suppose isn’t too surprising, most of them don’t have much of a clue.) Second, it’s exciting to have the opportunity to think about the discipline and to reflect on it, something I don’t think most of us have the opportunity to do very frequently.
Nevertheless, this course does have its challenges. On the one hand, no course can be all things to all people, and this course – as do most courses of this type – tries to be. On the other hand, no instructor can equally cover all of the fields within the discipline, or can really absent herself from what she chooses to emphasize. Now, we did try to mitigate both of these issues as we collaboratively developed the course and made the decision to use one common book, but even still, it’s striking how much who is teaching the course is going to determine the version of the discipline that students encounter in it. You’d think with that being the case that my colleagues would be chomping at the bit to teach the course, but not so much.
Do any of you all have introduction to the major courses at your institution? What do those courses involve? Who teaches that course, and is it a course that people want to teach or is it viewed as a crappy service course to be avoided? How do you see the role of such a course? What are the positives and negatives of such courses, the potential rewards and potential pitfalls?
I have some of my own answers to these questions, but I’d be interested to hear from you all about how such courses work (or don’t) in your experience.