My Freshman Year : What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student
My Freshman Year What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student Author:Rebekah Nathan A revealing look at the college freshman experience, from an insider’s point of view — After fifteen years of teaching anthropology at a large university, Rebekah Nathan had become baffled by her own students. Their strange behavior—eating meals at their desks, not completing reading assignments, remaining silent through class ... more »discussions—made her feel as if she were dealing with a completely foreign culture. So Nathan decided to do what anthropologists do when confused by a different culture: Go live with them. She enrolled as a freshman, moved into the dorm, ate in the dining hall, and took a full load of courses. And she came to understand that being a student is a pretty difficult job, too. Her discoveries about contemporary undergraduate culture are surprising and her observations are invaluable, making My Freshman Year essential reading for students, parents, faculty, and anyone interested in educational policy.« less
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It was a brilliant idea, a professor becoming a student to figure out why no one does the required reading or stays after class to talk to the prof. But due to ethical provisions, we never get to hear much of the student's stories. Instead, we hear a professor talk about how hard it is to be a student these days. As an anthropology student myself, I can tell you it can be even harder, taking classes full time, working, dealing with family. The book was based on a good idea, but she doesn't pull it off. Her writing is flaccid at times, and at other times she talks about things completely off base from her original study (international students and how they feel about their American classmates?).
As a read for my cultural anthropological class, I found this to be really insightful and easy to read. Most textbooks can be dry but this keeps you interested. Rebeka Nathan's account gives real insight into campus life and could be an eye opener for professors, administrators and parents alike. One major problem that anthropologists face when venturing into ethnography is ethical issues. Nathan is no different, she struggles throughout the book to maintain her ethinic duties and keeps names, places and telling details out of the context in order to protect those studied.
Will most likely read again as I get futher into my ph.d studies in anthropology.