As opposed to the first previous review that was more of a demonizing rant than a genuine analysis of this instructor, I will attempt to fairly address the pros and cons of Risham Majeed. While many aspects of that review are undeniably true, there are some things that were omitted. Iâ€™ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to write in this review so I hope it is effective.
Firstly, this instructor is dead serious and will rarely crack a smile. From day one her arrogance is abhorrently cast upon the class as she continually forgets names and/or calls students by other studentsâ€™ names. (Once she even called a student â€œMonetâ€, ha). If you wish to receive a good grade in this class it is vital to ensure that she learns your name quickly. She stresses the importance of participation so be sure to frequently have your hand in the air. She conducts each lesson in seminar style and does succeed in producing interesting discussions between herself and students. While she most certainly likes to hear herself talk, there are ample opportunities to speak up and she is fairly receptive. Even when ideas span as far as someone comparing Jesus in a painting to a Stephen King character, or explaining that Saturn isnâ€™t eating his baby child â€œeffectivelyâ€, she rarely will berate such thoughts.
However, her lectures are excellent and interesting and she is undoubtedly committed to the material. She is irrefutably very intelligent and knowledgeable when it comes to the course material. If you pay attention many of the units can be engrossing (excluding Amiens Cathedral in particular). One thing Risham didnâ€™t seem to notice is that we are FORCED to take Art Hum and therefore, most of us arenâ€™t genuinely interested in the material. Therefore, its absurd for her to act disappointed when few people show up to her tentatively planned, unscheduled field trips to often majorly inconvenient locations (i.e. the Cloisters and Sothebyâ€™s).
The overall classroom atmosphere ranges from those truly unmotivated (some seniors and a few others) to those too petrified of Risham to say a word. Regardless, after a few weeks to a month, a fair amount of the class dismissed their qualms about speaking up in class. Participation is worth a whopping 30% of your final grade so be sure to show up, sign the sign-in sheet, and speak up in class as much as you can.
One of Rishamâ€™s worst traits is that if you e-mail ANYTHING to her, the likelihood of response is slim. I feel as though she only responds to e-mails that are quick and convenient for her to answer. I can confidently say that she responded to an estimated 33% of my e-mails. Be it a question about the midterm/final/papers/ or trying to schedule a time to come to her office hours, a response is rare. On the note of office hours, she only decided to hold official office hours starting AFTER the midterm exam and she often cancelled them without as much as a simple â€œunfortunately, I canâ€™t make itâ€ or an old fashioned â€œsorry.â€
Furthermore, there is ZERO, I repeat ZERO, direction as to how to succeed on the exams or papers in this class. She held one review session for the midterm that was, at best, mildly helpful and she answered one studentâ€™s question â€œWill we have a review for the final exam?â€ with a typically phlegmatic â€œNo.â€
There is a midterm exam and final exam worth 15% and 20% of your grade, respectively. The midterm comprised of 10 slide IDâ€™s (artist, date within 10 years, and title), and three comparative essays. She zips through the slides, often not allowing enough time to think about them and not always telling you when she is switching to the next slide. You are given 15 minutes per essay so scribble everything you know into some coherent manner and be sure to include the proper name, artist and date of the works you are analyzing. The hardest part is citing authors from secondary sources throughout the semester; however, she didnâ€™t seem to grade too harshly if you donâ€™t go into detail on them. The final is a similar format except that there are 15 slide IDâ€™s, 2 comparative essays (15 minutes/essay) and one longer essay which you have 45 minutes to write. Another thing to keep in mind when studying is that she likes to pick obscure slides so study pieces that you may not otherwise expect to end up on the exam. Nevertheless, the essays count for an overwhelming percentage of the exam so in actuality, forgetting a few slides wont be too detrimental to your grade.
As for papers, there is a one-page, ungraded writing assignment towards the beginning of the semester that she was pointlessly harsh on, a 4-5 page paper (15% of your grade), and an 8-10 page paper (20%). For the latter two she gives no more than vague, two-sentence note that gives you no substantial idea of what you should be writing about.
And before I forget, I need to mention that she actually gave us a pop-quiz one day (I thought this was college, not high schoolâ€¦or middle school for that matter). I assume that when she graded them she realized that there was little point in such assessments. Posting to courseworks and short-medium length readings comprise the rest of the workload for this class. While she doesnâ€™t grade individual postings, I assure you that she takes note of exactly who does and doesnâ€™t post.
Risham is not one to shy away from admonishing the class for things such as not posting to courseworks, sleeping in class, or using a cell phone in class. Not to say that it isnâ€™t wholly unreasonable for her to care about such things, but e-mails such as my personal favorite that says â€œIf anyone is caught sleeping, texting or using any other electronic device in class again you will be asked to leave and marked absent for that class. It is not only disrespectful and distracting to me but to your classmates as well.â€ seem ironic when she will ignore your e-mails but still manage to send hostile ones. And frankly, I donâ€™t know what other â€œelectronic devicesâ€ she is referring to here, but I am curious to knowâ€¦
Now here is where some of you might get confused as to my agenda in writing such a verbose review. I have to say that despite the aforementioned downsides, I am overall glad that I took this class with this teacher. While her harsh, atypical idiosyncrasies were hardly necessary, I found myself focused and committed to the class and emerged from it not only more interested in art, but with a working knowledge and understanding of how to analyze artwork. Sure, her irascibility frustrated me at times, if you put in the work and show up to class, you can pull of a good grade and actually learn something. However, if you futz around in class, or just donâ€™t show up, youâ€™ll simply sink beneath the stress and likely end up dropping the class.