Friday, December 5, 2008

Evaluation time

It's the end of the college semester. That means evaluation time.

We always read the evaluation forms. Most of the comments are fairly similar, but sometimes, there are a few that stand out. I thought I'd share a few.

We see a wide range, from the ones who find something they didn't even know they were looking for, to the few who really don't get it at all. From those who appreciate the structure and discipline, to those who really just wanted to grab a sword and have at it.

Sometimes, the interesting part is the pairs of comments we get from the same class.

Like these:

Student #1: "I would not recommend it because it isn't much exercise."
Student #2: "I expected to have sore legs and arms and my butt too. Oh yeah, they were definitely met."

Student #1: "No, fencing is not as physical as I thought it would be. You don't even get a sweat."
Student #2: "I would recommend it based on the physical demands (good exercise)."

So what is up with that? Remember, these are two students from the exact same class, same semester.

You might assume that the first student is in better shape than the second student, that what is easy for one, is difficult for the other.
You would be wrong.

We can easily predict which students, if any, will make a comment about the class not being physically demanding enough, not being a good workout.

It's simple.
It's the ones who don't DO the workout. The ones who show up late, phone it in, and/or stumble through the moves without any actual effort or attention. The students who, at the end of the semester, look about the same as they did on the first day.

Contrast that with those who are putting in physical and mental effort, who are trying to gain some level of skill, who pay attention to details as best they can, and really try to get it right. They never complain about it not being difficult enough.

Likewise, we often have pairs where one person says there is too much discussion, and another says that's the best part. Pairs where one says the class moved too slowly, and another who says it should slow down. I don't believe we have ever had a class where we got only one comment from the usual pairs.

Some of the more fun comments, mostly from the newly converted, highly enthusiastic students:

"Yes, it is amazing, take it now."
"You would be a crazy fool not to take this course!"
"It is a class out of the ordinary."
"I learned so much and built strength both in a new physical field and mentally."
"Where else could you unleash your desire to be a chivalrous knight without seeming immature?"
"Not something you're likely to find anywhere else."
"Yes, because the instructor is insane, but it's a good insane."
"Make it once a day, not once a week, dammit! It hurts to wait for this class!"

My all-time favorite comment: "Workout with happiness!"

And some of the puzzling comments:

"I would suggest introducing the actual olympic game of fencing and allowing students to duel one another."

Wow. What class did they think they were in?!?
1. This isn't olympic fencing. Period.
2. Allowing students to get killed would be frowned on, I believe.

"It focuses more on technique than I expected."

Hmm. So what DID you expect it to focus on?

"I would recommend it, but only if they really wanted to learn to fence."

And you needed to point this out why, exactly?

In the recommendations for improvement section:
"A little less fencing instruction."

And what should we do instead? Go bowling?

"Be less concerned about safety."


From the rapier class:
"Lighter swords."

Uh... sorry. If you want to work with lighter swords, don't take the class with the heavy ones. It's that simple. If you want to learn to use a rapier, you pretty much have to use... a rapier. Who knew?

These are a few of the comments from the past couple of years. Stay tuned next semester. I'm sure there will be more.


Spartacus Jones said...



Katherine Crocker said...

Well, I suppose if you took time off from focusing on safety, you could use that extra time to mop up the dead and injured students...



CoyoteFe said...

"A little less fencing instruction."

And what should we do instead? Go bowling?

Classic! You're funny.

GreenJello said...

So. Are you the insane instructor? :)