SCRAPS FROM THE EDITOR'S WASTEBASKETThese are excerpts from a regular column in The Vector an informal, unofficial, and unheralded publication I edited during my years teaching at Lock Haven University. In response to overwhelming demand (a couple of people at least) these are being archived here for those strange people who enjoy wallowing in nostalgia. Some of the references to then-current events may be puzzling, but feel free to skip them, or relate them to more recent events of similar nature (which can always be found). References to internal politics at Lock Haven University may be easily transferred to situations at other academic institutions. A few explanatory comments have been added in square brackets.
Vol. 2, No. 2, April 1978
TRIVIAL STUDIES LIVESThe cause of trivial studies received a setback recently when the state Department of Education rejected the college's prospectus for a general studies graduate degree. But never fear, trivial studies are alive and well on the undergraduate level at many campuses across the width and breadth of this land. In fact, it can be truly said that trivial studies represent the wave of the future. Probably no national development in education of the last decade is more significant than the trivial studies programs that are mushrooming in colleges and universities throughout the entire country. These programs are designed to attract students who are seeking intellectual challenge and enrichment with the opportunity to broaden and deepen their intellectual experience through the freedom and diversity that non-specialized programs offer.
Some of this language will sound familiar to readers of the recently rejected graduate program prospectus. That material was so magnificent in its florid and specious profundity that we couldn't satirize it if we tried, so instead we plagiarized it.One important advantage of trivial studies programs is the fact that trivial studies courses require no special expertise to teach. Therefore no new faculty need be hired.
We add here a couple more course proposals in the spirit of trivial studies. We hope the appropriate departments will take them under consideration and act upon them in suitable fashion.
CARTOGBAPHY 1.1; MAP READING. It has been determined by classroom research, that most students can't read maps. Therefore this course should be required of all students. One week will be spent learning to find student's home state on a map. [Bonus points will be awarded for knowing the name of that state.] The remaining thirteen weeks will be spent learning how to properly refold the map. The course will, of course, carry laboratory science credit ("the whole world's a laboratory.")Here is an example of plagiarizing badly. A student once wrote a paper and referred to a study "done three years ago." This was properly footnoted, giving as source a journal paper correctly dated ten years earlier. That student deserved to flunk.
[Note: At that time a debate was ongoing about the definition of "lab science", originally used only for natural science laboratories and field work. The geography faculty thought cartography ought to qualify, the English faculty wondered whether the language lab (listening room) experience qualified, and the phys ed folks thought their performance measurment courses ought to qualify.]