Campus / First-Year Preceptorial Revamp / News / September 21, 2011

Freedom (for professors) to flourish

Knox has welcomed the class of 2015 with a new Freshmen Preceptorial (FP) system. The new format allows for freshmen to select a preceptorial class appealing to them. The courses are designed by the professors who are passionate about their new sections of the innovated FP.

According to Professor of Educational Studies Diana Beck, the goal of FP had been to provide students with a common experience in which they would all read the same books and have the same writing assignments.

“I didn’t necessarily feel that way; I’m not sure that all first-years doing the same thing is a goal we had to hang on to. So dropping it, I do think, is a good thing,” Beck said.

Regardless, Instructor in Psychology and Gender and Women’s Studies Kelly Shaw believes FP will still be similar to previous years, addressing many of the main goals such as intensive writing and critical thinking, along with asking the big questions.

“The old FP also addressed diversity; now I think it’s a little up in the air if it is addressed or not” Shaw said.

However, even though students will have distinct FP classes and will not have the same exact common experience, the idea is not completely brand-new to the Knox campus.

“Back in the ‘90s, early 2000s, there were Advanced Preceptorials; students were encouraged to bring their disciplinary perspectives in specific topics,” Beck said.

Beck believes the new sections are similar to the Advanced Preceptorial format in regards that professors are allowed to design a course about a big topic which fascinating them.

“[The new system] is better and worse, because there is more freedom and because there is no framework. But that’s what we like to do; we are creative people,” Beck said.

Among the new preceptorial classes, there is the class Cinematic Visions, taught by Shaw, and Death and Dying, instructed by Beck. One may wonder what led them to teach such courses.

“First of all, because I love movies and I love talking to students about movies, and I love FP so it has everything. When I was a student, FP was two terms, and I liked it as a student,” Shaw said.

While Cinematic Visions revolves around movies, there is also a greater purpose for this course, discussing the meaning of life. On the other hand, Death and Dying focuses on being able to cope with such situations.

“I’ve had a lot of experiences with dying and death. I wish I had known more of what to expect, and how to handle it. It is interesting to bring some of these experiences out of the closet; it is very valuable to us,” Beck said.

“I love the old FP, I love the new FP, I just love FP,” Shaw said.

Carmen Vargas

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