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American college teaching is in crisis, or so we are told. But we've heard that complaint for the past 150 years, as critics have denounced the poor quality of instruction in undergraduate classrooms. Students daydream in gigantic lecture halls while a professor drones on, or they meet with a teaching assistant for an hour of aimless discussion. The modern university does not reward teaching, so faculty members at every level neglect it in favor of research and publication. In the first book-length history of American college teaching, Jonathan Zimmerman confirms but also contradicts these perennial complaints. Drawing upon a wide range of previously unexamined sources, The Amateur Hour shows how generations of undergraduates indicted the weak instruction they received. But Zimmerman also chronicles institutional efforts to improve it, especially by making teaching more "personal." As higher education grew into a gigantic industry, he writes, American colleges and universities introduced small-group activities and other reforms designed to counter the anonymity of mass instruction. They also experimented with new technologies like television and computers, which promised to "personalize" teaching by tailoring it to the individual interests and abilities of each student. But, Zimmerman reveals, the emphasis on the personal inhibited the professionalization of college teaching, which remains, ultimately, an amateur enterprise. The more that Americans treated teaching as a highly personal endeavor, dependent on the idiosyncrasies of the instructor, the less they could develop shared standards for it. Nor have they rigorously documented college instruction, a highly public activity which has taken place mostly in private. Pushing open the classroom door, The Amateur Hour illuminates American college teaching and frames a fresh case for restoring intimate learning communities, especially for America's least privileged students. Anyone who wants to change college teaching will have to start here.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title page, Copyright page
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xi-xiv
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  1. Introduction. Personality over Bureaucracy: The Paradox of College Teaching in America
  2. pp. 1-13
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  1. 1. Between the Two Ends of the Log: Teaching and Learning in the Nineteenth Century
  2. pp. 14-31
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  1. 2. Scholarship and Its Discontents: Teaching and Learning in the Progressive Era
  2. pp. 32-56
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  1. 3. The Curse of Gigantism: Mass-Produced Education and Its Critics in Interwar America
  2. pp. 57-82
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  1. 4. "Teaching Made Personal": Reform and Its Limits in Interwar College Teaching
  2. pp. 83-105
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  1. 5. Expansion and Repression: Cold War Challenges for College Teaching
  2. pp. 106-128
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  1. 6. TV or Not TV?: Reforming Cold War College Teaching
  2. pp. 129-156
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  1. 7. The University under Attack: College Teaching in the 1960s and 1970s
  2. pp. 157-185
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  1. 8. Experimentation and Improvement: Reforming Teaching in the 1960s and 1970s
  2. pp. 186-218
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  1. Epilogue. The Decade of the Undergraduate?: College Teaching in the 1990s and Beyond
  2. pp. 219-234
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  1. Appendix. Archives of College Teaching
  2. pp. 235-238
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 239-284
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 285-294
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Additional Information

ISBN
9781421439105
Related ISBN
9781421439099
MARC Record
OCLC
1194528709
Pages
320
Launched on MUSE
2020-09-12
Language
English
Open Access
No
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