Andrea is a fantastic CC professor; I was in the GS section, despite being a student in the College, and am not sure if the syllabus was pared down significantly because of its intended student body or because of Andrea. Either way, I found myself pitying all of my peers who had CC professors who killed them with hundreds of pages of reading per class section, numerous essays per semester, and stringent class participation policies. Andrea creates an extremely open environment in which any individual feels comfortable talking, and finds some worth in pretty much any comment made. He directs student discussion toward some general topics, but does not force any of his solid opinions. Even more, I found one of the most wonderful things was his admitting at the end of the year that our class had changed the way he thought about a lot of the texts. He is extremely open, a very fair grader, and wonderfully warm. Consider yourself extremely, extremely lucky if you get Andrea as your CC professor.
I would have to agree more with the negative reviews than the positive reviews of Andrea. One class particularly sticks out in my mind, when he told us that he was reading most of the CC books for the first time, just as we were. You would think that this would mean he would give us a little break as far as grades were concerned, but it didn't. I did well in the class, but I was on of the few people who did. I think the positive reviews here on CULPA are probably from the other few students who did well, and would therefore obviously be more willing to defend Andrea. But I can honestly tell you that I hated this class. I regret not trying to transfer out in the first few weeks...in retrospect, I realize I should have demanded to switch sections. I thought that it was only the first few classes, and that things would get better as we went along. Not at all. They only got worse, because any enthusiasm that we did have for the class at the beginning of the year had disappeared by October. Some other reviewers talk about Andrea not shoving a certain intrepretation down students' throats. That's because usually he barely gave any interpretation at all!! I changed sections this semester, and my current professor does all of these things that some other reviewers say Andrea doesÂ–such as being open minded, etc.Â–and STILL is able to give us tons of information and different prevailing opinions (and not-so-common) opinion about the works and authors that we are reading. Basically, half of the time in Andrea's class is spent in absolute silence! He will be reading his book, looking for a passage or something to talk about. Or he'll start out asking/ stating something that sort of sounds like a question, and then wait for an answer from the class, until someone finally has the courage to raise there hand and say "Excuse me? I don't understand what you're asking?" Or else he'll ask questions so vague that there really is no answer. In my opinion, asking students "What do you think about this?" is not a valid question and I certainly expect more from a professor at Columbia University, something that would at least force us to think a LITTLE, or at least keep us awake! And finally, something about the grading... at one point he did do a sort of chart on the board and explained that he grades everything on a curve, and it was something to the effect that only about 2 people get each grade. As in just a few people get A's, a few get B's, a few C's, and a few lower. This is not the standard bell curve that would be expected. I can't believe that such an inexperienced professor, who can not even claim to have a good grasp of the works which we are reading and therefore cannot call himself an expert on evaluating our essays about these works, would be so confident to be so strict in grading. So to end, I would just like to say that I sat in this class, and I know what it was like.
In response to the harsh reviews of my peers, I have this observation to offer: Andrea may come off as flip-floppy in class and as a harsh grader, but I think this is just a mistaken construal of his honest and encouraging teaching style. During class, he presents the philosophers' ideas from the various perspectives of scholarly authorities and himself, and then leaves it to us to work out what we believe and what we choose to reject. He, unlike other teachers, does not shove a certain interpretation down our throats, and for this I am very grateful. Also, in essay consultations, he has challenged not only my ideas but also the basic methods by which I process the world of theories and beliefs. Perhaps my peers, who have written such negative reviews, did not expect Andrea to be quite so challenging and complex a teacher, maybe because he has an Italian accent and is a graduate student, but I personally wouldn't want a different CC instructor. He utilizes teaching methods that mobilize the doubts and critical thinking skills of his students. And give the guy a break, it's a 9am section we're talking about here!
Andrea is a great professor in the sense that he doesn't try to force-feed his own opinions on the students. Instead, he tries to get students to bring their own ideas into the discussion. After all, you can sit in a class and get information all day long, but how often are students encouraged to develope their own ideas in order to share them with other students. The point of the academia is not to just learn the facts behind what these thinkers were saying, but to challenge the ideas and take things from them in order to create your own ideas. Andrea understands, and helps to foster these ideas in a receptive environment. Who cares if the class is easy, if you are concerned with getting challenged in CC, then you are obviously disillisioned as to the nature of the class itself. If you want a CC section that is purely didactic in nature, then look elsewhere. If, however, you want to have a forum to developement your own ideas, this is the section for you. Andrea is that rare teacher at columbia that cares less about his own ideas and more about the ideas of the students.
I think the other reviewer was a little harsh on Andrea. Sure, I gotta agree that oftentimes the class discussions were pretty forced, long-winded, and pointless. But then again, at least you didn't need a phd in philosophy to follow the discussions. It's a good class if u want to learn what your peers think of the readings and of different contemporary issues. NOT good to gain major insights into philosophy from a knowledgable teacher. I think his grading is pretty lenient actually. I've done pretty well so far even though I personally didn't think my paper was all that great . Midterm wasn't too bad either if you did all the readings and listened in class. Pretty easy to do well. A definitely possible.
Andrea is well-intentioned, interested in the subject matter, occasionally funny and (in my experience) not a harsh grader at all-- but none of those qualities makes up for the fact that he seems like a first-time substitute teacher. Twice a week I sit for two hours boiling with frustration and resentment directed towards most of the class. It's hard to say whether the discussion is nonexistent becase of the apathy and consistent failture to read among the other students, or if that's just a reaction to Andrea's inexperience in leading discussions. Most of the time I feel bad for him, because it's obvious he wishes we would engage with his questions, but it just hasn't been going ANYWHERE and it's almost December. I'm breakin' out.
Wow. Andrea Borghini might be the absolute worst professor I've had at Columbia yet. It pains me to say so, because he's such a nice guy. He's from Florence and speaks and understands English well, even though he has a heavy accent and tends to mumble a lot. I think this may be part of the reason the class is so terrible...maybe he is not very confident in speaking much, and therefore most of the class has absolutely no focus whatsoever and is filled with students giving their random thoughts about the readings and their opinions on life in general. I had an amazing Lit Hum professor last year, so it amazes me how this guy could be so bad. He seems like he doesn't prepare anything for class. The worst is that half the time we honestly sit there in the room doing nothing, he'll just be staring out with a blank look on his face, apparently thinking of something to say in Italian in his head and then translating it to English. Or he'll have his head down looking through his book trying to think of something to say or of a question to ask about the reading. He told us he has been at Columbia for four years...we can all only hope that his career will not continue on to a fifth. The worst part is, on top of all this terrible teaching, lack of preparation, etc. (oh did I mention that he was late to the first few classes, but then a few classes later he yelled at the class for people being a couple minutes late?? also he ALWAYS goes beyong the actually class time by at least 5 minutes, wasting even more of our time) he is a VERY HARSH GRADER! Unlike many people in the class who didn't do the readings but still liked to give their opinions in class, I did most of the reading but still didn't do very well on the midterm. This guy is way out there, I have no idea how the other students have put up with him so far. I am definitely changing sections next semester.