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PLATFORM : Debate Is Simplistic

March 22, 1992|BRIAN FAGAN | BRIAN FAGAN, a professor of anthropology at UC Santa Barbara, commented on state Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill's call for increased teaching loads for UC instructors. He told The Times:

Most UC faculty work long hours in the classroom. It is insulting to suggest otherwise. We are already stretched too thin, meeting legitimate obligations not only of teaching but of university and public service and research. The debate about undergraduate education ignores fundamental issues.

The basic question is not that of teaching loads, but of complex problems in the classroom. How do we break down the anonymity of large classes? Can we increase enrollment while improving academic standards? Can we foster interactive learning, reducing the hours of merely lecturing? Can we increase curriculum diversity, develop multidisciplinary curricula that respond to California's needs? Can we create reward systems that give faculty credit for months, even years, working on undergraduate education alone?

These are the problems that should engage us, not simplistic debates about teaching loads that carry a serious threat of lowering academic standards for all.

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