Monday, June 27, 2016

First Day of Class

My Lecture Hall
I arrived at class about thirty minutes before 10:00 AM. Everyone was super early because we were all afraid of being late since Cornell has such a large campus. We were supposed to read through the first chapter of the textbook the previous night, which was extremely helpful. We were all able to quickly just go straight into discussing the first chapter which covered the psychology of questionable belief. 

An extremely interesting case I read from the first chapter was that in a survey for the 1936 US presidential election more than a million responded saying Republican Alf Landon would defeat Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, but Landon ended up carrying only two states. This was because the survey was taken from telephone directories and automobile registrations, which ended up creating bias. Wealthy people were more likely to own phones and cars than the poorer people and also be Republicans. This was extremely interesting to me because I often use various statistical evidence for debate, but after reading this case I've started thinking about questioning my opponents how the research was conducted for their evidence. Another really interesting case was that certain studies say married people are happier than unmarried people. While this case did show a survey of how happy people were before and after they married, it didn't consider whether it's because these people are happier that they end up marrying someone. The argument there is that happier people may be more appealing to others and more likely to get married. This is called a case of reverse causation, where happiness might cause marriage rather than marriage causing happiness. 

The professor also covered multiple slides on critically thinking rather than just memorizing the material which I absolutely agree with. Too many students, myself included sometimes, nowadays just memorize the information from textbooks instead of actually learning the material. It not only limits discussion during class, but also the student's preparation for life after high school. From personal experience, I know this is especially a problem at Pinole Valley. While I do believe this problem is partially the students' fault it's largely due to the fact that memorizing the textbook is such a large part of teacher's curriculum. I spent a good part of my time in world history reading the textbook or doing work from the textbook and not actually discussing what I'm reading. I should be using the textbook as reference to discuss it during class, not using it as the only thing teaching me world history. Even though I've only gone through one day of my class, I can already tell how much difference a teacher can make. 

After the main lecture from my professor, we were split into smaller discussion groups headed by teacher assistants. We all went to different classrooms and during my discussion group we paired up and had to introduce our partner to the rest of the group after asking our partner some questions. I was paired up with a girl from Beijing who is going to high school in Delaware. Most of the students in my discussion group are international students from China and all of them are able to speak English fluently, which says a lot about the foreign language departments in American schools because I know plenty of people that are unable to even speak conversationally in the foreign language they study. 

After eating lunch, I met up with Joceline and Diana to take the bus to go see Mike at Ithaca Mall. We went to Target and bought all of the things we needed. Afterwards we went to the food court and got dinner. We all talked about the different experiences we've had so far. I ate wonton noodle soup from Easy Wok. I didn't love it, but it was nice eating Chinese food, even if it was Americanized Chinese food, after not eating it for a while. Diana and I played ping pong in Balch's dorm lounge after we took the bus back. I've only played ping pong a couple of times in my life, so I wasn't very good, but it was still pretty fun. I spent the rest of my night reading through 70 pages of my textbook, which was surprisingly not too bad because I was surrounded by others who were also studying and we talked throughout our mini study session.  

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