Seminar: Selected Topics in Buddhist Studies
I took ***Japanese 50*** with Carter as a requirement for my Japanese minor and I was surprised how much I enjoyed his class. When I took his class, I was a freshman and it was my first time taking a north campus class (I'm a south campus major), so I was afraid of things like writing papers, entirely free response exams, etc. Thankfully Professor Carter's class wasn't bad at all! First thing's first Carter is a really cool guy. He is extremely laidback and friendly--not once did he come across as mean or intimidating. You can tell he really has a passion for what he teaches. But I also liked how you could tell that his world didn't just revolve around Japan and Japanese studies. There were a few times during class he'd make reference to rap music which surprised me and showed me that he really is a cool guy with lots of different interests. He shows lots of interesting videos during class and always has lots of cool stories to share about his experiences in Japan. He also did the JET program (teaching English in Japan), so if you have any questions about getting into the program he'd love to answer them. As far as his class goes, I was extremely happy to find out that we never actually had to write any papers. We had 2 pop quizzes the entire quarter, and one of them he didn't count at all cause he felt bad that he caught so many people off guard. You have weekly selected articles that you must read and make a post about on CCLE. DO NOT SUMMARIZE--analyze. I managed to get a perfect score every single week for these but some students kept getting low scores because they kept summarizing and not putting any actual thoughts into the responses to the readings... The midterm and final were extremely fair and you were never expected to write more than a paragraph per question at most (most questions only required one line per answer). Here's how to get an A in his class: do the readings, go to lecture and copy down everything on the slides (he does not post slides online), and memorize what you wrote. You will literally only being asked questions whose answers come directly from his lecture slides--there are no surprises. A word of advice though is to always remember the pictures he shows during class and their significance, as the midterm and final have a portion on identifying pictures. I got an A in his class and learned a lot about Japan. I went to Japan over the summer and it was cool to show my Japanese friend how much I knew about the country's history and the many temples and shrines we visited. If I have a chance to take a class of his again in the future, I will!
This is a review for K172, Christianity in Korea. There were so many times I would catch myself almost calling him “Pastor” instead of “Professor”... He really does give off this pastorly vibe. I can’t explain it. Professor Oak (what a rad name, right) is a meh-level lecturer. His powerpoint slides make no sense and are riddled with tons of tiny and unimportant details. If you miss class and look at his slides later, you won’t understand much of it. If you go to class, try to write notes, and look at the slides later, you probably still won’t get it. His lectures don’t wander or go off on tangents, but 75% of what he talks about seems to have no real practical importance, especially since you won’t get tested on anything until the final (no midterm!), and quizzes are based on the readings and thankfully not his lectures. Which is not to say that the readings make much sense, either. Some of them were clearly written with a target audience, one that has much more background knowledge of the material than you do, and so you'll slog through it without getting much out of it. And Prof Oak won't always explain those obscure terms during class, nor will Google always be of much help. I think the quizzes seemed to have gotten more difficult over time - they went from more general to “list the five main points of the 1988 doctrine,” and I think a few times he tested us on secondary readings rather than the primary ones (which are the ones we’re supposed to be tested on). He does mumble a lot, and sometimes his accent gets in the way. (Once, he said that “Christians will be ruptured” -- he meant “Christians will be raptured.”) He emphasizes a lot of the theological points, which won’t make that much sense to you unless you’ve studied Christian apologetics or Biblical hermeneutics in depth, and like I said before, the more historical points are just full of unnecessary, complicated details. He seems to prefer these over broad themes and general points. He also has a lot of slides of scans of Korean documents, so if you can't read it, it goes completely over your head. There was no midterm, but there were three reflection papers, and you could opt out of the final by writing a 10-12 page research paper. The reflection papers are easy because they come with such a strict, elementary format. The intro HAS to start with your thesis, you have to have sections marked off as “summary” and “reflection/comparison,” and your conclusion HAS to start with a thesis, summarize your main arguments in the body, and then again end with the thesis. Honestly, you’d be better off cutting out the summaries and just doing straight analysis, but whatever, it’s simple enough even though it’s a pain. As for the regular final, though, he supplies you with a bunch of questions beforehand, and he picks a few that you have to write on for the test. Not too bad. It’s clear that he really wants you to do well by dumbing things down for everyone. I do get the sense that he does have favorites, like the other reviewers mentioned below. Toward the end I stopped caring, and my quiz grades dipped because I was always studying for another class and only skimmed the readings the night before, and I was constantly on my phone ignoring lecture. But I made efforts to write my paper early and went in to get his feedback often in office hours, and I got an A in the class. He also spams you with emails to complete the instructor evaluation at the of the quarter, which is pretty unusual for a professor. It means he cares about improving the class, but who knows if he's completely aware of how best to actually do that.
Course taken: Chin 100A Pros: Shen Laoshi is an overall friendly teacher, who is ALWAYS available at her office hours anytime during the day to help you out with any concerns or time conflicts. She's always smiling and really passionate in what she does. And, she grades each individual student on a different scale, depending on their background and which Chinese series they took. Cons: I felt that she asked way too much out of us. Coming from Fu Laoshi's class, I was not used to this amount of workload. Every week there were 2 quizzes, and every other week there was an assigned essay of increasing length from 350-600 characters (5 essays in total for the whole quarter). Having taken Chinese for 2 years at UCLA, I understand that this subject requires a lot of time input and effort. I honestly found her way of teaching Chinese not effective. You can't expect some students to learn more Chinese by asking them to write and write and write.. It was unfortunate that she didn't put more time on teaching grammar because that would have helped a whole lot with our essays' grammatical structures. Half the time, I wasn't even sure if my sentences made sense. I did go to her office hours to have her look at one of my essays, but she only spent a few minutes glancing at it and gave me pointers on the "bigger picture" of my paper and nothing about my grammar was mentioned. Writing is a major emphasis in this class and because of that, I rarely had time to go back to old chapters to review since I was so caught up in preparing for the next paper. Last but not least, there seemed to be no consistency in her lectures. Each and every day of each week, I came to class not knowing what subject areas she would focus on. Some days she would teach random parts from the textbook and on other days she would teach off some PowerPoint slides. I like Shen Laoshi and all. But, I'm simply not a fan of how she teaches Chinese. After 10 weeks with her, I felt that I forgot how to speak and write basic Chinese as the weeks progressed on.