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Documentation: Letter to students from sociology lecturer

Documentation: Below is the letter sent to students of the course Marginalisation Sociology by Leopold Galicki

Dear students,

The course Marginalization Sociology is coming to an end. A part of the oral presentations have been done. As you already have been informed the deadline for essay delivering is 25th May. The essays have to be handed in or sent by normal post to Susanne Fogtdal, Dpt. of Sociology.

Comment on evaluation questionnaire

During the lecture, Thursday 25th March I commented the evaluation questionnaire (18 respondents among 33 formally signed up students). As only 9 students attended last class, I formulate my comment in writing in order to share it with all of you.

The course has run intensively, two days a week instead of one, and therefore not 3,5months but two months. It has given an extra pressure on readings and not enough time for reflections between classes on the course material. Furthermore, the homogeneity of the course participants: different teaching cultures and different study backgrounds of the participants: some only after one year of sociology study, some soon writing their master thesis, as well as differentiation in the disciplines represented: from psychology, ethnology etc.. to, of course, the mainly represented students of sociology.

Also the subject of the course is demanding in a certain way; the subject Marginalization Sociology is hardly known, not to mention, well established in the world of the sociology. Actually you only can study marginalization phenomenon in a comprehensive way, i.e. on the basis of the different theoretical approaches, which constitute a certain manifestly substantiated aggregate on this course.

All this together bring about certain challenges for both the teacher and the students. In the globalized world of the permanently increasing differentiation on the one hand, and communication where the experiences from different practices encounter each other on the other hand, this course comprises an exercise in meeting the challenge in concern. The already done oral presentations demonstrate that the course participants can take this challenge, in some cases even excellently.

Why this comment?

Usually I don’t find it necessary to comment the evaluation, even though, if there was time for it, it always would be purposeful to discuss the students’ evaluation. I consider the answers (16) as useful; they underline the course’s qualities as well as some critical moments.

I don’t need to add that critique is always welcome in an open society. I take your attitudes and evaluation seriously. However, this time there are two students whose answers constitute an example of a critique, which is unacceptable, especially within the milieu of coming sociology graduates. I will argue, that this kind of critique which the criticized, i.e. me, finds unacceptable and intolerable, is a critique based upon a prejudice. Furthermore, this case of critique constitutes an example of social process in Wiese’s terms, which demonstrates how actors may marginalize themselves from a certain practice in which they could be rooted-in for some period.

There are two actors: the anonymous students X and Y. (let me stress: the following lines are not meant to, and cannot expose the students in concern. I don’t know and don’t want to know their names. Therefore this comment in no way it can hinder them to complete the course and deliver a good examination performance.)

What has prompted X and Y’s so negative and dismissive attitude to this course? What has brought about their blindness to the black on white facts?

The blindness to the facts and then the inconsistency in an actor’s assessments/evaluation/attitude is a result of prejudicial perception of a certain part of reality. When you are black, so you are…. When you are white, then you are…When the lecture’s English is not good according to X and Y’s standards, then the whole quality of the lecture’s teaching, the overall educational dimensions of the course are insufficient and bad. Prejudices and blindness to facts are products of shortage of communication and/or deteriorated communication and may easily lead to actor’s marginalization. (The experience from our case: has X ever asked about the points which X alleges have been missing in class? Has Y ever said or written to the lecturer about Y’s worries about his/her understanding of the course material? )

Therefore my dear students, the comment above.

Leopold Galicki