The Things Students Don’t Know About Their Own School and How Lisa Vera Whipped Me into Shape
By: Student Worker #1
It has been a great semester. School hasn’t been too demanding, UT defeated OU, and I was elected Vice President of my fraternity, not too shabby. However, one of my greatest accomplishments was surviving my first semester as a student worker. I can honestly say I have learned a lot. I am a pro at uploading files to file maker pro, I mastered the art of scanning documents, I can stamp a proposal like nobody’s business, and Lisa even trusted me to use the signature machine once (it was awesome). But don’t let these amazing talents fool you…I still have flaws. One of my flaws is that even though I have been at UT for two and a half years there are so many things about this University that I still do not know about. To make matters worse I was arrogant enough to think that I knew the ins and outs of this campus. Good thing Lisa was there to kindly and gently tell me how wrong I was. The main thing I have learned from working here is that there are so many aspects and resources in this University that students know nothing about. In this blog I will highlight three things about UT that I have learned the most from working here and what most students are in the dark about.
The first thing students are in the dark about is registering for classes. They fail to take advantage of the course schedule and have the wrong approach when choosing professors. If you read my first blog “The Underrated Course Schedule” you will learn that students disregard the course schedule and use myedu as the sole resource for creating a schedule. As mentioned in that blog, myedu has its limitations such as not alerting students when a class is closed, cancelled or waitlisted. These limitations cause students to have insufficient information about their prospective classes. Another issue with student registration is their means of selecting professors. Students again turn to myedu and more often than not choose the professor that gives the most A’s. In the past this was how I too chose classes and Lisa had kindly pointed out to me how that was a horrible approach. She then challenged me to go to myedu and pick a HIS 315L course just for fun. I went ahead and picked the HIS 315L course that had the highest distributions of A’s and disregarded all the other sections. This was a terrible mistake. Because I went right for the class with the most A’s, I disregarded choosing a class with Dr. Henry Brands. It turns out that Dr. Brands has written 25 books and is known as one of the best historians in the nation. He was even invited to the White House to meet President Obama. Therefore, if students go straight for the class that might have the most A’s, we are missing out on getting to know some the nation’s best scholars. But Dr. Brands is certainly not the only noteworthy professor, we have faculty that has won the Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize, and even a few professors that are knighted. That’s right; UT has knights walking around campus. Students should not allow themselves to limit their academic experience. Students must therefore research their professors and utilize the course schedule in order to properly register for classes.
Along with signing up for classes, students fail to know exactly what the course they are signing up for is about. In my course spotlight blogs “Debating the Bible” and “ The Rhetoric of South Park” I learned that there was more to a course than simply its title. Many students will sign up for courses thinking it’s about one thing, but really being about something completely different. In my interview with Martin Lockerd, I discovered that the Rhetoric of South Park will not be a bunch of students watching a TV show. On the contrary, this class is designed to improve the writing and thinking skills of students through analyzing the satirical nature of South Park, which is much different from what I previously thought. Moreover, in my blog “Debating the Bible”, I learned from Dr. Landau that this class will not be a Bible study, but rather a way to look at the bible through an academic perspective and analyze the Bible’s use in today’s world. In both these blogs I have learned that students will register for classes, but have a misconceived notion on what the class will actually entail. Therefore, students need to look more into the classes they want to register for.
Besides registering issues, students are also in the dark about the many resources this University has to offer. We all know that UT has a lot of services and resources for students, we have been told that ever since UT orientation, but sadly students are reluctant to use them. In my blog “we are the problem” I was surprised by how much information the UT health center had on stress relief alone. It really opened my eyes to see how much UT has to offer for its students. Another personal example is when I came into work stressed out about finding a venue for an event for my fraternity. Lisa enlightened me on how student organizations are able to book places on campus and even get funding. She then gave me a step-by-step process on how to reserve a venue and who to talk to. I was shocked on how organized and easy it was for me. This is another example of how students must explore the numerous campus resources available to them.
Besides registration, choosing professors, and booking spaces I am sure there are things about this campus that I am still uninformed about. However, I am certain I will learn more in the spring semester. I am able to take what I have learned from this job and tell my friends. I am able to help them find good classes to take and let them know the university can help them with their events as well. It has been a good time here at academic affairs and I am looking forward to more opportunities that will come my way. Lisa has been really good at helping me better understand things as well. I mean I am not surprised; I am her favorite after all.
By: Student Worker #1
In my last Course Spotlight, I discussed RHE 309K, “Rhetoric of South Park”. With this one, I wanted to write about a course with a very serious title. So, I took a 180-degree turn and learned about R S 346, “Debating the Bible in the 21st Century.” I sat down with the instructor, Dr. Brent Landau. Do not let the course title fool you. “Debating the Bible in the 21st Century” will be neither a Bible study nor a critique on the Bible. Instead, students will analyze the Bible through an academic lens and explore the use of the Bible in the political arena and everyday life. The course will provide a challenge to both the devoted Bible reader and the avid Bible critic alike. No matter what your beliefs, Dr. Landau will help you understand this very old book in a brand new way.
Dr. Landau is another great example of the talented and friendly faculty we have at UT. Growing up he was always involved in church and both his uncle and grandfather were ministers. His original plan was to get ordained as a minister himself, but as he continued to study religion and the Bible, he decided to pursue teaching religious studies at the college level. He did his undergrad studies at the University of Iowa and went on to get his Th.D. (Doctor of Theology) at Harvard University. Unfortunately, his first position was at the University of Oklahoma. However, after four years he finally made his way to the Promise Land –The University of Texas at Austin! Although he stated that his football allegiance belongs to the Iowa Hawkeyes, he did confess that the Texas Longhorns are growing on him and he was happy with the outcome of this year’s Red River Rivalry. He even gave bonus points to all his students the next class day after the victory against OU to celebrate our win. He also mentioned that his son is a Longhorn fan and enjoys Bevo over Boomer any day.
In addition to the “Debating the Bible” course, Dr. Landau teaches R S 315N, “Intro to the New Testament”. The intro class is designed for students to learn about the New Testament in the historical context in which it was written. He started teaching the “Debating the Bible” course in order for students to learn about the effects of the Bible in today’s world. He will discuss with his students how people apply the Bible to what he calls “hot-button” topics such as: abortion, gay marriage, welfare, ordination of women, sexuality, evolution, and even the end of the world! Students will contrast how people use the Bible to address these debates with what the Bible actually states. Dr. Landau wants his students to discover that the Bible is a very complex text that does not have a unified voice. In fact, it has multiple examples of conflicting messages on these hot-button topics and is extremely diverse. He hopes his students will fully grasp this diversity, become better critical thinkers on deeply held issues, and become more knowledgeable about the Bible itself rather than how it is often portrayed in the political sphere.
Like all religious studies courses, Dr. Landau will explore the Bible using an academic approach. This was a surprise for me. At first, I thought the “Debating the Bible” course would be more theologically driven and be conducted more like a Bible study. I was wrong! After researching the academic field of religious studies I learned that there is a clear difference between religious studies and theology. Dr. Landau says that theology is best explained through St. Anselm’s idea that theology is faith seeking understanding of religious doctrine within a particular religion. When a person studies theology, they tend to believe in that religion already. Religious studies, on the other hand, does not have a default stance and treats all religions equally. The religious studies department takes an objective approach on religions and studies their history, effects on society and culture, and interaction with other religions. Therefore, he plans on setting the tone of the class early on and explains how to study the Bible through an academic method. The class is designed for students to learn the effects and misconceptions of the use of the Bible in the 21st century. He says, “This is not a class that will have a right answer.” By analyzing the Bible through an academic lens it allows students of all beliefs to voice their opinion and also be respectful of other people’s viewpoints.
Conducting this interview with Dr. Landau helped me learn a lot about courses at UT especially in the Department of Religious Studies. This course reminds us that we must look beyond the course title to really understand what the course actually is focused on. In the case of “Debating the Bible in the 21st Century”, it is not a course that proves or disproves the Bible. Instead, it is a class that enlightens students about the use of the Bible in our society. This class is a great representation of how courses at UT are open to people’s different beliefs and supports students learning new ideas from opposing views.
Tagged: course, description, Topics
When we look at a course schedule what classes do we see? We glance over the “typical” courses that are familiar to us like the english, history, math and science courses. When looking at these classes, we may think that we are no different from other universities. But you and I know that our faculty members and instructors are better than that. We can easily find interesting courses even among our requirements. A course that represents this well is RHE 309K,“Rhetoric of South Park”. You may be thinking, “Really? South Park? That vulgar show that offends everyone? How can this course possibly provide academic merit?” Or, you may be thinking, “Alright! Sign me up!” Thanks to this assignment, I was able to sit down with the instructor, Martin Lockerd, and discuss this new class. I learned a little about Martin and what he hopes his students will learn from this noteworthy course. I also learned that behind the course title, there is an academic story.
So, who is Martin Lockerd? You may wonder if he is an experienced instructor or just a giant South Park fan. But who ever said those things are mutually exclusive? I can assure you Martin Lockerd is the real deal. He is a graduate student getting his PhD in literature. His research focuses on modernist literature, specifically Irish and Anglo literature. He received his Master’s at St. Louis University and taught classes there as well. Surprisingly, he told me he did not enjoy reading as a child. In fact, he hated it. He said, “I just wanted to watch TV as a kid”. However, in high school he began to have an appreciation for literature. It was there he was drawn to teaching and the belief that it would keep him the most intellectually engaged. I believe that Martin has the ability to relate to both kinds of his students; the ones who want to take this class because they are avid South Park fans and the ones who are avid writers and see “Rhetoric of South Park” as a new challenge.
Although it has South Park in the title and will feature clips of the show, the class is a Rhetoric & Writing course and therefore is geared to improve students’ writing and thinking skills. This might seem to be contradictory due to the show’s boorish nature. But, that is exactly the point. Most rhetoric courses focus on something that is both interesting and engaging. The instructor chose South Park because it adds two new factors: provocative and fun. But can South Park really teach us the art of persuasion? Martin thinks so. He said, “It is really hard to watch South Park and not be pointedly aware of the cultural context.” This is because the show addresses current events and controversies in almost every episode. South Park offends conservatives as well as liberals. Martin thinks this unique satire of ridiculing everyone can spring up intellectual conversation that many other one-sided satirical shows, like “The Daily Show”, cannot. Conversely, when asked if he is worried about the class itself stirring up controversy. Martin replied, “I plan on it.” He wants to use the provocative nature of South Park to discuss why certain things are offensive and whether or not there is such thing as satire going “too far”. In the course, students will look into ancient modes of rhetoric to see how they can reason and make arguments. By forming and articulating good arguments Lockerd believes that students can be better advocates for themselves.
Clearly, this course is something special. The class will provide the perfect balance of fun and challenging. I believe that this class, and others I’ll be spotlighting, demonstrates the creativity and talent of our teaching staff in helping us look at the world more critically. Courses at UT can be exciting, demanding, and useful beyond our academic life. Therefore, next time you browse through the course schedule look beyond the title and discover the larger scope of classes our University has to offer.
Tagged: course schedule, description, title, Topics
By: Student Worker #1
For those of you who are not familiar with Myedu.com, I posted a video to show how it works and can be used with the University’s course schedule.
My EDU class schedule tutorial
By: Student Worker #1
Every website about stress relief has very broad tips: “get enough sleep”, “eat well”, and “don’t smoke”. But these websites also tell me one very specific tip: do yoga. So there you have it, yoga is the answer! You might as well not read the rest of my blog if that was a sufficient answer for you. But chances are, yoga was probably not the answer you were looking for. If you wanted to do yoga, you’d be doing it. You probably even asked yourself “Is yoga even worth it? I have to go out and buy a yoga mat and yoga pants and then haul these things with me to work. Then, go to a yoga class at Gregory with a bunch of undergrads that are still fit from high school.” You have to take your shoes off and you might hate feet with a burning passion. Your feet might literally be burning from walking around campus all day going from meeting to meeting. At this point the utter thought of doing yoga stresses you out. Let’s face it; we are busy people. So reading a list of things like “eat healthy”, “get 8 hours of sleep”, and “do yoga” can be seen as generic advice for most of us. We want more than that, but, really, these tips are all you need.
I don’t want to minimize these websites dedicated to dealing with stress or argue that the tips presented are wrong. From what I gathered is that stress relief tips are all the same and when we read these guidelines they do not shock us at all. For example, you probably already knew that yoga helps people relax and stay fit. My point is that we need to take this advice to heart. My goal is to motivate you to give yourself a break and reduce your stress in your life. At the end of the day it is up to you to deal with the worry in your life.
So many times I have told myself that I need to exercise more or stop drinking soda or start reading my bible regularly. I tell myself these things because I know they are good for my health. However, I always find myself blowing off these things and falling into the same lazy habits. I think we all have this problem. We know basic things that help us with stress, but the problem is we lack the discipline to actually do them. In our busy schedules we have very little free time and we feel like we only have time to do our mandatory tasks. Putting forth an extra effort every week to do something that relieves stress can help us tremendously. If we tell ourselves “I don’t have time” and we continue to not exercise, get little sleep, eat fatty foods, and take few breaks, we damage our health and lower our productivity. When our health is damaged and we are less productive, this can lead us to be even more stressed and we fall into a cycle of worrying. Do not let this happen! You have been working hard your entire life and it’s about time you give yourself a break and relax. You deserve it.
Why not give yourself some extra “me time”? How about we do something about the stress in our lives instead of letting it destroy us? Next time you see a list of helpful tips to overcome stress relief, do not merely glance over them and get on with your life. Look at that list and put it into practice! So, what exactly does the UT health center website advise us to do?
- Exercise 30 minutes to an hour a day. Try to map out a time to do some sort of physical activity. It does not have to be yoga; Gregory Gym has numerous opportunities to stay fit. If the membership fee for Gregory is not in your budget fear not! According to Forbes Austin ranks #12 on America’s Healthiest Cities. With that said, Austin is full of gyms, hike/bike trails, and athletic events that can aid you in staying healthy. For more information about fitness opportunities and Austin-style health tips visit Austin Fit Magazine.
- Eat a balanced diet. I am not saying to go vegan (although it might help you fit in with the people in your yoga class), but start off small like pack a lunch to work that contains fruit and vegetables or switch from soda to water.
- Limit illegal drugs and alcohol. Dependence on drugs and alcohol can cause much more stress down the road. Relying on drugs and alcohol as a way to unwind can lead to more severe problems and affect the people around us.
- Get involved with something. In our busy schedules we need a separation from our work life and leisure life. Get involved in something that is not work related. This can be a church group, service organization, a city league sports team, or even start a band (it is Austin after all). Joining an organization provides a good community and support group to help you work through stress.
- Take a deep breath and look at everything in perspective. I know this statement is cliché, but once we strive to do our best rather than seek perfection we can take a huge weight off our shoulders. Realize your job is not a life or death situation and do not let your weaknesses and shortcomings define you as a person.
- Talk to someone. The next time you are stressed out do not hold it in. Reach out to someone and talk through your issues. We are not meant to live our lives alone. We must seek support from our friends and family. The worst thing you can do is bottle up all this stress and not do anything about it. With that said, be open and sympathetic to a co-worker who approaches you and asks for help.
So now that you have read these tips I advise you to look at them again and find ways to fit them into your schedule. Start off small and try two or three and see how you feel.
Never forget, we are strong people. We are Texans and we are Longhorns. Resilience is part of our life style and it is the reason we get out of bed every morning. Perseverance is what helps make this University great. Therefore, I am certain that because of this we can handle whatever life throws at us. I once heard that anxiety is the worship of worry and the failure to trust in the fact that everything will work out. Think positively and count your day-to-day blessings. If we do not give ourselves a break we can be our own worst enemy. For this week, do something that is relaxing and helps you get through the week. Make it a habit and observe the results. The more disciplined you are, the easier you can help yourself out.