Why I Love the Morse Academic Plan

I know, it’s a little lame that most of my recent posts have been my WSN columns, but I’ve been thinking about some other things that you may be seeing soon (something Batman R.I.P.-related, and maybe some fiction even, which I haven’t done in a while). This column ran today, 10/02/08, in the Washington Square News.

Teaching for the real world; MAP guides with pain

Damon Beres

I wrote a column last semester expressing a certain level of dissatisfaction with my Quantitative Reasoning course, a class I was required to take as a part of NYU’s Morse Academic Plan. Neither the professor nor the teaching assistant spoke what could rightly be considered a passable level of English, and during most weeks, the lecture and recitation sections were almost completely empty. The class was easy, with the average grade on the final being above 90 percent, and most declared the entire ordeal a massive waste of time and money.

This semester, the MAP adventures continue with Natural Science, a class that’s already sent students clamoring for tutors, TA office hours and for those lucky enough not to be in CAS, the pass/fail option. It wasn’t until last weekend when I spent precious hours trying to make sense of a legion of kinematics graphs that I began to question the true purpose of the MAP requirements.

Here is what NYU has to say about the program: “In addition to the academic foundation it provides for students’ future studies, the MAP defines the common experience of undergraduates … through a challenging array of foundational courses the program heightens cultural awareness, hones critical reading skills, promotes creative and logical thinking.” Indeed, students definitely expand their creative thinking each time they feign exploration in “Writing the Essay,” but it would seem, based upon the overall uselessness of MAP courses, that NYU is trying to train us for something else entirely. One might say that the sole purpose of the Morse Academic Plan is to espouse unbridled masochism in NYU students so that we might be better prepared for the misery that awaits us post-graduation.

Imagine for a second a world in which you were free to take whatever classes you pleased, selecting only those that pertain to your major or perhaps even surveying an interesting elective or two. After all, what purpose does something like Quantitative Reasoning or Natural Science serve to anyone who’s not planning to major in math or science? Or Conversations of the West to someone disinterested in philosophy or history? How fun the entire educational process would be if we were free to mold it to our every whim, shaping our world as only Gallatin mystics dare. Without these requirements however, NYU students would hardly be prepared for the real world.

It’s a good thing that NYU forces students from its many schools to take a heaping of credit hours that in all likelihood have nothing to do with one’s intended course of study. It builds character. Were I to miss out on the experience of bludgeoning myself in the head with “Astronomy Today,” an 800-page behemoth of a textbook, vainly hoping to somehow transfer the secrets of the universe from the massive tome into my hemorrhaging brain, well, I probably wouldn’t be ready for any of the hardships that assuredly await me in this life. Death in the family? Alien invasion of the nation’s capital? Stock market collapse, African Trypanosoma parasites burrowing deep within my tender flesh, my wife leaving me and extorting me for child support; all of it will seem like child’s play compared to my Natural Science midterm. The most mundane of professions will be bearable after the slow burn that was the Conversations of the West-Writing the Essay sequence. As I ripped “new release” stickers off of 200 copies of “The Bucket List” at Blockbuster this summer, I slipped slowly into silent contentment. “At least this is not the Expository Writing Program,” I flatly thought.

Thank you, Morse Academic Plan. You are my guiding light in a dark, dark world.

Damon Beres is deputy opinion editor. E-mail him at dberes@nyunews.com.

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2 Responses to “Why I Love the Morse Academic Plan”

  1. Charles Edward Says:

    I disagree with this post, but I feel like we have already talked about this? Either way, I think it’d be neat to discuss it over AIM or something.

  2. MAP is a waste of time and money.

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