One of the greatest minds of any core instructor. Really understands and is passionate about morality, political science, and humanity. Don't you want someone to teach you that loves what he teaches? This man is the definition of passionate. He may ask a bit of you in terms of workload, but man, Kevin is A1. His discussions are always enriching, and he really seems to connect with students and is a funny guy too. We love Kevin!
While I can sympathize with some of the errrr... harsher... reviews... and definitely see where disgruntled former students are coming from I don't think that Professor Elliot is an absolute monster. I'm hope to offer a fairly tempered response about what I thought of his class. He's definitely one of the harder CC teachers out there so if you're taking other difficult classes in addition to his class, I would recommend either dropping that other class or switching out of his to one of the more lenient CC professors in his stead. But CC in general is a very difficult and time consuming class in my opinion. Columbia administrators even recommend not trying to take on too much whilst you take CC. So if you're looking for a quote unquote "easy" CC professor, you won't find it in Professor Elliot... but I'm not entirely convinced that you'll manage to find it anywhere. While his discussion question handouts that he passes out can be... annoying... and distracting, especially for people who feel pressured to follow them religiously in fears that the questions will be on the midterm, they are merely things to consider as you are reading. They aren't mandatory persay. I can sympathize with how the sheer quantity of things to look for might come across as overwhelming. I would recommend keeping them in the back of your mind... but not actively hunting for answers. There aren't many opportunities for participation it seems like, especially for students who seem a little bit on the shy side but the discussion board posts give you an opportunity to at least attempt to make up for it. He's fun to listen to... so even though the class isn't particularly discussion based you won't be bored for two hours. All in all... is he the best CC professor you could ever hope to have? Probably not. Are there worse out there? Most likely. The one thing I will say is that I would not recommend taking his class if you have a disability because he isn't particularly accommodating or understanding of your limitations.
Despite some of the reviews on Culpa, Kevin Elliott is a pretty good professor. His classes are very interesting and by the end of the semester Kevin ended up being one of my favorite professors. He gives a little more work than other professors, but he grades fairly, so if you do the work you will probably end up with an A/A-. His midterm was very straight forward, it was mostly quotes we had covered in class. At the beginning of the class he seems intimidating and he tells you have to do all the readings, but the workload is very manageable. Only a certain amount of the discussion posts are graded, so most of it goes to your participation grade (which is really good if you don't participate much in class). As far as the readings go, it's just like any other class; some kids do none of the reading and still do fine. There are more essays than other classes, but the first few are really short, the third one is an outline of an essay, and the last one is a standard essay. He also let's you rewrite an essay with the new grade replacing your old grade, so the amount of writing assignments really helps your grade.
The previous review is unnecessarily harsh. While this class probably is more work that the average CC class, if you actually participate/do the majority of the readings, you will probably get more out of it than you would in the average CC class. Kevin is great at facilitating discussions and balances lecture and discussion really well, and I got many take aways or new ideas to think about from almost every class. He even illustrates difficult concepts with diagrams that are super helpful and tries to cut down the volume of reading when he can. Kevin can definitely come across as a little bit of a know-it-all initially, especially when he interrupts students, but throughout the semester his quirks and mannerisms become much more endearing and you realize that he is just really excited about the texts and discussion. In response to the paragraph about the additional guided reading questions that he distributes, they don't really add to the workload of the class because you do not have to even look at them if you don't want to. He specifically said that they are to help us and guide our reading, especially if we are struggling to glean the important ideas from a text. He does not expect you to write answers to them or turn anything in. If you do choose to use them, you could probably just think about the questions and formulate an answer in your head. Personally, I never looked at them after the midterm first semester and it was fine. The discussion board posts before every class were a little annoying, and I did always have to manage my time carefully that day in order to submit mine before the deadline, but they were effective in making me read more closely and think about the text critically. In the future, it would be a lot easier if the posts were due the day of the class rather than the night before to give students more time to do the reading and come up with something to write about. As far a grading, I thought that Kevin was extremely fair. From what he said in class regarding his expectations for our essays, I thought it was going to be much more difficult to get a good grade on the essays than it was. The prompts definitely made you think, and some were pretty challenging, but he was always willing to help students work through their thoughts and the logic behind what they wanted to write during office hours. He also dedicated a large portion of class to answering questions that students had about the essays a few days before they were due. My only issue with the essay assignments was that a few essays were due during midterms/finals. It was really difficult to dedicate enough time to the essay when there were so many other things to study for. Overall, I was really glad that I was in Kevin's class. I really enjoyed it and felt like I learned a lot. I would definitely recommend taking CC with him!
Kevin definitely grew on me over the course of the year. At first, I was disappointed by the amount of time he spent speaking to class instead of inciting discussion (because I was comparing it to Lit Hum, which for me was entirely discussion), however I ultimately became really grateful for the balance he placed between explaining concepts and moderating discussion. He cleared up a lot of difficult concepts at the first of class, then let us discuss with a reasonable amount of moderation. He has a great ability to make things understandable and explains things in a few different ways, which allows him to be effective for many learning styles. In particular, I really liked his analogies and the incredibly helpful diagrams and visuals he drew out to explain important concepts. I'm a visual learner and normally struggle with classes that are entirely discussion, so this was indispensable for me. He did a really good job starting discussions and gauging the mood of the class to find what the students were interested in. He's also freaking hilarious in a very Kevin Elliott kind of way. You'll grow to enjoy his fondness for The Matrix and Star Trek references, his adorable love for his daughter, his annoyance with flies, and his tendency to swear for emphasis. Some complaints I do have are that his feedback oscillated between being somewhat thorough and useful and being literally one or two sentences and confusing squiggly lines. Moreover, this class is, without a doubt, more challenging than other CC classes. We probably do about 25% more reading than other classes, and the workload itself is more than that of other CC classes I know of. I also sometimes felt that he made some of the essay prompts intentionally almost impossible to answer in the way he was looking for. Despite all this, if you end up in Kevin's class and you don't want CC to be a complete joke for you, then I'd stay in it. Overall, I feel lucky to have had Kevin and wouldn't have changed professors if I could.
I never do these things... but for Professor Elliott I just felt as though I had a responsibility to warn people. The man is a certified lunatic. He's one of those CC teachers where looks can be deceiving. He comes across super gregarious and fun and engaging and sucks you in. But he's definitely one of those teachers where he forgets that you're taking other classes apart from his own. He has you submit multiple discussion board posts per class so if you fall even a little bit behind on the reading... you're effectively screwed. And each one requires so much reading and so much evaluation that you're pretty much working on it up until the point of submission. If that isn't bad enough, he hands you a list of 25 or so questions that you're supposed to answer for each reading... as if we're in high school and we're filling out a worksheet to prove to the teacher that you have basic comprehension skills. But they're so distracting that you're not able to process and absorb the material in your own way since you're too consumed with trying to answer the questions that he deems important. He's one of the only CC teachers open every semester because people just do not want to deal. I promise you that if you take his class you will regret it. Run while you can.
You would be very lucky to have Kevin Elliott as a CC instructor. I've heard about a lot of bad experiences with CC teachers, and I was so thankful to have Professor Elliott. If you're looking for a joke CC class where you don't have to read the books, then this is not it. His class is taught the way CC classes should be taught. You have to read the books and pay attention in class but you will gain a lot from it. He makes the works incredible accessible and explains them in ways that will clarify all the questions you had when you were reading Marx or Hobbes that you thought were blatant contradictions or totally vague. He hands out reading questions for each thinker which are extremely helpful in terms of guiding you through your reading and helping you understand some of the focal points of each writer's thought. His class is mostly lecture, but he lets it evolve into discussion when people have things to say. When people disagree he may also try to encourage the debate or ask people for suggestions. Most people find CC classes with lectures very boring, but you will learn A TON if you pay attention in his class. He knows all the works well, unlike what I've heard about many CC teachers unfortunately. Even though the course is a serious one, he's kind of a funny guy and the feel is very laid back. The grading is fair. If you want to get an A you have to read the books, pay attention in class, and try hard on the essays. Highly highly recommend if you can get in.