When I saw a silver nugget next to Aaron Winslow's name, I almost threw up. Rarely do I play the "I'm awesome and he sucks" card, but I feel that in this case I must: Aaron was one of two TAs for Stephen Massimilla's Modern Poetry II course a couple years ago. I wrote a paper on a Gwendolyn Brooks poem, which Aaron thought was "B/B+" quality; the only real comment he made was: "This is VERY confusing." While a B/B+ is not an abysmal mark, I was shocked that THIS essay, of all the essays I'd ever written, had received such an evaluation. My writing was lucid, my argument was unique, and, when I took it to Professor Massimilla to get his opinion, he told me it was "the best essay of any in the class." (He promptly changed my grade to an A, and Aaron may have been the recipient of ensuing chastisement.) It might also be worth noting (and, again, please excuse any sense of boasting) that my senior thesis, which I wrote the next year, was in large part an expansion of my argument in the Brooks essay, and I won a major Columbia College awardâ€”which included a $2,500 checkâ€”for this work. The point is not that I'm the second coming of Jesus; it's that Aaron is a terrible judge of quality, a terrible reader of poetry, and a terrible teacher, who thinks it's okay to give all his students less-than-stellar grades, even if several of them have produced truly exceptional work. Finally, the one lecture Aaron gave during our class (it was on Amiri Baraka) was mindbogglingly bad. He displayed no knowledge of Baraka's project whatsoever, stumbled over nearly all his words, and ruined for many of us what could have been a very exciting discussion of one of the most unique poets of the 20th century. I'm surprised he's made it as far as he has in Columbia's English graduate program.
Aaron is very lenient and laid back, which makes it all the more shocking when you get your grades -- it doesn't matter how hard you work, by registering for Aaron's section, you're going to get a B. When drafts were due, I spent an average of 16 hours a week on this class, and walked away with the same grade as others who showed up with a one paragraph "draft" they'd obviously written in the half hour before class without even reading the articles. I would strongly recommend Aaron's section for anyone who wants an easy B, but if you're hoping for a better grade, take one of the other sections where the work throughout the semester might be a little heavier, but in the end you actually have a shot at a good grade.
The last review is what EVERY student should read before taking Winslow's class. He is useless when it comes to writing!!!! He is always late returning the drafts, and chooses the most horrible topics for the essays. Yes, Winslow does give Bs, I suspect his grading is based on his impression of you. I was never interested in his personality or his wardrobe-- I guess some students have different priorities. Please, don't take his class!!! It is a total waist of time!
Professor Winslow is a nice guy, and I can't say I paid much attention to his wardrobe, but those two points seem rather irrelevant when judging his abilities as an instructor. His teaching style, however, was flawed. He would often state on drafts that things weren't clear or that he was a bit confused about the thesis, but he would never elaborate beyond that. He would tell you that something is wrong, but never show you how to fix it or how it could be fixed. The "peer review workshops" were not necessary for the class. My classmates had great and insightful things to say, but we spent far too much time doing it, and at the end of the day they weren't the ones grading my paper; he was. He would only leave four or five comments on the paper, making vague critiques at the end (see above) and we were left to fend for ourselves. The "revision workshops" were an absolute joke. Bringing in a cookie-cutter paragraph template and telling us to use it wasn't helpful. Furthermore, handouts about grammar, punctuation marks, "transitions" and the like were not the most effective use of our time. Speaking of time, Professor Winslow was almost always late in handing back our papers and drafts. It got to the point where we simply ran out of time at the end of the semester, and the final "reflection essay" had to be trimmed. All in all, I can't say I was thrilled with Professor Winslow. He's a nice guy, but I barely learned anything in his class. He wasn't helpful in his critiques, nor were his workshops of much use. Last but not least a comment on grades. Professor Winslow believes a B is a good grade. Grades tend to fall in the B range, with not many Cs and not many As.
He is the most adorable University Writing teacher alive. Each class he wears a new plaid shirt and is just adorable. He's awkward (in a good way) and very sweet/funny. He picks interesting articles for the essays and is very reasonable. He is willing to meet with you outside of class one-on-one and is REALLY helpful when he does so. He also gives really good feedback and notes on your proposals, first drafts, and final drafts. Section 013 is the best University Writing class ever! :)
I can honestly say I'm super lucky to have him as my Professor for University Writing! He is a little dorky and awkward but that's what makes him so fun. He tries his best to teach you the best strategies to writing as well as getting class involvement. What's so awesome about him is they he doesn't compensate as a teacher, meaning he doesn't assign heavy workloads to intimidate the class. He commands the attention and respect of the class simply by being a nice guy. He's super flexible when it comes to turning in proposals and drafts, a little more strict on the final drafts but even then. His comments are helpful and as long as you fulfill his suggestions you'll do well on his papers. If you get him, be thankful! I had to walk to Knox Hall on 122nd every Mon and Wed but it was well worth it.