Whatever happened to "upper division" classes?

I took a midterm today in my Sociology class. SOC 180A: Complex Organizations. Now, this test was entirely scantron — meaning that it was 25 extremely straightforward multiple-choice or true-false questions. The only one in which I had any confusion was #1, in which he failed to clarify one of the possible answers, but was very simple to explain once a couple of people asked him about it.

Beamish had a dictionary out on the desk so that “those who encounter words that are entirely unfamiliar may look up the information they need to interpret the test.”

Two words were apparently so unfamiliar and undecipherable that he stood up to announce their meanings to the entire class.


I finished the test fairly early, so I’m not sure of any other such questionable words, but honestly! We’re in an upper-division social science course at a UC campus. None of my fellow students appear to be from a non-English-speaking country. How difficult is it to break up these COMPOUND words into their respective roots?

Merit + cracy. Think of democracy, aristocracy, bureaucracy, theocracy. It was even defined in class two weeks ago. Is the word REALLY that hard to understand?

Omnipresent. Omnibus, omnipotent, omniscient… did we really do that badly on our SATs? Have we not yet completed any of our college writing requirements IN OUR BLOODY SOFT-SCIENCE MAJORS?

Y’know, if it were a bunch of chemists or engineers, I might be a little more sympathetic. But Soc-Sci?

Sorry, no. If you’re having trouble with words like these, what the HELL are you doing in a major (or department or academic field) that SPECIALIZES in making up stupid words to deal with concepts we already understand?


~ by jackelopette on February 9, 2006.

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