Kathryn Kolbert

Dec 2017

Kindness is not a bad thing--it would not have cost Professor Kolbert anything to praise the incredibly good work done by students in this class. She constantly gave unjustified (and unexplained) criticism to myself and my classmates as we gave presentations and completed assignments. There were two times during the entire semester when she gave genuine praise. That was it. I truly do not believe that an entire class of this size was made up of terrible students--this is not narcissism, just statistically unlikely at Barnard. Instead of telling us her expectations throughout the course--and instead of answering genuine questions, she would courtly tell us to consult the syllabus--which was not always comprehensive enough on every assignment, hence our need to ask questions. She never returned any of our written work or provided feedback, so I had (and still have) no sense of how I did in the course, and what I could have done to improve (although, again, she would certainly tell us how terrible we were during in-class presentations). Prof. Kolbert is a busy person, and not generous with her time. I felt every (mandatory) meeting in her office was a bother to her. Overall, she could approach a CLASSROOM environment with smart and excited students with more kindness, willingness to help, and genuine feedback. If this is impossible or too tiring for her, then she should not be a teacher. It is required for the Athena Scholars program--had I known that I would only be given recognition for completing the program via my transcript, I would not have participated. This course was useless and stressful, and the program is overall not rewarding or educational beyond the rest of my Barnard career. It encouraged me to complete a project that I was passionate about, but I will not be picking up the work again until I graduate, if at all. The course met my expectations in terms of its stressfulness and lack of clarity. I would only recommend this course because I'm assuming it's an easy A, and 4 credits. Otherwise, I gained nothing new from it--there was no real teaching being done--and I feel like I wasted a tremendous amount of time listening to my equally disillusioned classmates explain their projects throughout the semester and be criticized. This class certainly creates a sense of camaraderie in that we all disliked it. More clarity in expectations for individual projects (beyond the syllabus). Literally any amount of feedback on our work. More teaching of new material that can help us with the project--the highlight of the course was a guest lecture by Jehmu Greene, which was the only point at which we were taught anything new, and one of the only times we were engaged.