A month ago I began New Year by starting a course Roman Architecture on Coursera.
The course itself offers various experiences, not all of them positive, but that’s topic for a later day. What I want to say now, is I am dumbfounded with poor preparedness of a lot of fellow “students”. Yes, some of them are, in fact, young and in university, but scanning the “introduce yourself” discussion forums, I have an impression majority are mature (some – overripe) adults, with wealth of life experiences, professions and skills behind them. Yet, there are so many among us who can not express themselves clearly, do not think clearly, appeal to pity, complain, resolve to blame, even throw tantrums or, reversely, assume an “irritated policeman” role.
About that lack of clarity. Week 3 requires students to write a short assignment and post it; each one then will evaluate 3 assignments by others. Topic is more conversational than technical: “Does New Technology Lead to Revolution or Revolution to New Technology?
Authors are supposed to use examples of Roman construction technology (in particular, Roman concrete) in addition to contemporary ones, and structure 250 words-essay in traditional way: thesis, middle part, supporting examples and re-statement of thesis. What could be easier – especially for people who HAD been to high school and university(ies) and HAVE real-life experience with business/professional correspondence.
Look at these pearls in the assignments I received for evaluation:
*”invention of concrete opened the way to a succession of monuments and architectonic
al ideas that have inspired artists and architects until l the last century”
[Romans did not invent concrete; “architectonic” is not what (s)he thinks is; why stop at last century?]
* “In my opinion is the discovery of a new tecnology which leads to the creation of new forms and not the opposite: probably, without concrete, Romans would have still found a way to be innovative and great, as they have become.”
* “Everything depends on technology discovered and thus brings a revolution or a social, cultural, political science can trigger a new technology”
[muddle and bullshitting. besides, when was the last time you heard of political science triggerring technological invention?]
*” From mentioned statements and every day experience it is almost impossible to firmly provide an answer to this question about what causes the other. At the end of the day this is not a critical issue. Important is that human life is of better quality, that people suffer less because of curable illnesses, that they are not hungry because due to new technology it is possible to produce enough food.”
[demagogue! did not listen to lectures: no mention of concrete or Romans whatsoever. and how do you like that condescending dismissal? at least the guy can write]
*”we can consider that a technological revolution can lead us to devise new means, this new medium can lead us to a new revolution either social, political, cultural, etc. ”
[whaaa? means or medium? a medium could lead to a social revolution? merry-go-round]
How the teachers/profs do it and not go nuts? What a patience they must have!
I had a bonus assignment to evaluate: perfectly done. Structured as requested; thesis supported by examples, thesis re-submitted at the end but rephrased. Perfect, perfect! except one thing: it was written about Egyptian pyramids. Egyptian architects and pharaohs named, archeological sites mentioned, technique of cutting stone wedges explained – but not a squeak about Romans or their use of concrete!