professor
Dara Mandle

Dec 2004

I was greeted the first day of class with an interesting assignment: to read an essay about the benefits of multicultural education. We then proceeded to read an essay by a black lady that proclaimed Christopher Columbus was a bad person (what a surprise), and it only got worse as she invited us to the "Anti-Bush Rally" that she was hosting with another Columbia prof whose essay we had to read, an essay so stupid and one-sided that it made me ashamed to go to Columbia. I'm not even a conservative and I was very off-put by the political climate of the classroom - no class, especially a freshman writing class, should even have a political climate to begin with. However, this is far from my biggest gripe about the class. I didn't learn anything. I learned far, far, far more in my HS English classes. Granted, not all of this was Ms. Mandle's fault, but some of it was - half of the comments that my classmates and I made went straight over her head, including very important writing questions, even grammar. She totally misread some of the essays we did in class and completely misunderstood some of my writing as well. In fairness, I think Ms. Mandle tried pretty hard and she was very friendly, outgoing, and nice. She made us cookies which was very touching (no sarcasm). She was so nice that I feel bad even writing this review. But this entire first semester, and her class more than any other, has given me serious doubts that I even belong at this school, and I've practically suffered a nervous breakdown. Columbia - please reexamine your U Writing class. I cannot believe that a class that lumps SEAS students who hate the humanities together with English majors who won writing contests in HS and then provides them a poetry grad student for a teacher is the best way to "welcome" students to Columbia.

Dec 2004

In my opinion, Dara has absolutely no place in a classroom. As a graduate student studying poetry, she has no experience in writing expository and critical papers; even if she does, she doesn't show it in her explanations and notes on papers. I spent an extra 5 to 10 hours on each paper, in hopes that my grade would improve. I saw Dara and went to the writing center after each paper also in an attempt to improve my writing. My grade remained static. She offers no constructive criticism and offers no hope. In fact, most of my class lost hope in improving their grades. It was a lost cause. I lost all interest in writing because of the shoddy teaching and her perfunctory execution as an instructor for a course that is supposed to teach good writing skills for the rest of your college years. Granted, your instructor is assigned, try to switch out. And if you can't, good luck surviving through her monotonous, awkward lectures in a claustrophobic room and uncomfortable wooden chairs.

Nov 2004

Very good, fun teacher. Quintessential book worm type. It's not my favorite type of class (at all), but she made the class time interesting at least. Of course, the work is a pain, and it takes up way too much time, but it's probabaly helpful in an undetectable way. She is rather ideological in her choices of readings and discussions, but thats good to talk about whether you agree with her or not.

Dec 2003

at first, i thought dara would be a cool teacher. i was wrong, and i believe my class, for the most part, felt the same way. she seemed very nervous to be teaching a class, so class room discussions were dull and she had little to add. essay assignments were very vague. for the most part, she gives everyone a blanket grade for an assignment (either all A-/B+ or B/B+ depending). i wouldn't recommend taking dara's section, but it's not terrible if you happen to get stuck in it.

Dec 2003

Dara is a graduate student in poetry, which means that she has a genuine interest in what we read. The fact that she is only a few years older than her students and very outgoing made being in class with her a joy. I think everyone had a really great rapport with her. She cares about your writing, which I think is probably rare in a large university. Then again, I am only a feeble freshman. The group project was kind of a drag and the objectives were confusing, but all in all it was bearable. She gives incredibly helpful comments on drafts, too. I don't know if she is going to continue teaching UW but if so it'll be lucky for you if you get placed into her section.