You would think that for a Dutch person living in South Texas, taking a History of Contemporary Mexico course would at least be useful, right?
I was even looking forward to it.
But it was a disappointment. The course was twice a week, for four and a half hours. The professor spent this time reading notes from yellowed paper – apparently he had been reading the same exact notes for years.
We had to read quite a lot at home, but the history we learned from the War of Independence in the eighteenth century to the present was limited largely to the presidents, how they came to power and how they were kicked out again by the next president. Since Mexico sometimes had eight presidents in a decade, this got old pretty quickly.
I was going through a pregnancy phase of being extremely sleepy, so I had the hardest time keeping my eyes open, both in class and while having to read so much at home.
The exams were the most frustrating of all. Ten sentences in which a word was left out, which you had to fill in. These words were invariably the names of presidents, generals, or the locations of battles. Never an open question about the reasons or cause and effect of anything.
So it was all a lot of work and then I didn’t even get the chance to show what I had learned.
Later someone told me that the professor tested this way because then he could have his teaching assistants do all the grading.
This man was also the dean of the History department.
Due to my inability to stay awake through this course, I got one of my two B’s in this, my senior year at a university.
(From a letter in 1996)
What do college grading and teen pregnancies have to do with each other? Read the next post in this series to find out.