First Day of Class 2011

Yesterday was the first day of one of my Tsinghua classes. It has about 25 students. I asked each of them to say their favorite book in English. Several were mentioned twice: Pride and Prejudice (mentioned three times), Harry Potter, Catcher in the Rye, The Little Prince, and — this surprised me — The Secret. The last student to answer this question said her favorite book was Lolita. The class oohed. Last year a student said his favorite book was Ulysses. I said my favorite book was Cities and the Wealth of Nations. (A close second is Totto-Chan.)

I said the class would have three underlying principles: (a) Every student is different. (b) The best way to learn is to do. (c) Reading group. Two years ago, a Tsinghua engineering student started a reading group to read some famous Chinese book. He put a sign-up sheet in the library. The idea spread and now there are maybe ten reading groups, which meet weekly. It’s a alternative and successful educational system, they must be doing something right. To try to learn from their success, I am going to imitate their most obvious feature, which is a presentation about the week’s reading. For the coming week I asked for volunteers to give 5-minute presentations about the reading assignment. I said that if you gave a presentation, you wouldn’t have to do the regular homework assignment (commenting on the reading) for two weeks. Three students volunteered. After class, as I was leaving, one of the volunteers came up to me. She wanted to do the homework anyway, she said. She had volunteered to do a presentation “to exercise my bravery”.

6 Responses to “First Day of Class 2011”

  1. Tom Says:

    Seth, the “exercise my bravery” thing reminded me of an interesting article in the NY Times which I thought you’d like:

    http://nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html

  2. Karen Says:

    Hi Seth!I’m one of the volunteer………
    I’m now dealing with my comments and presentation and finding everthing availible to help my work so that my performance on Monday won’t ruin your enthusiasm of resding group:)

  3. Karen Says:

    Oh! sorry!I mean READING GROUP ………..

  4. Karen Says:

    And honestly speaking, I find your paper quite interesting!

  5. Thussy Says:

    Professor Roberts,

    What time/place does your class meet at Tsinghua?

  6. Seth Roberts Says:

    My Frontiers of Psychology class meets Monday 3:20 pm in Teaching Building 6, Section A, Room 113. My R class meets Tuesday 3:20 pm in Teaching Building 3, Section 3, Room 3109. You are welcome to attend.