Posted by: Steph | March 20, 2006

In Defence of 5150

I am bored by black and white. I firmly believe that anything interesting lives in the millions of shades of grey. Maybe that is whey I am one of the few individuals who generally enjoys 5150. Before putting on my rose coloured glasses, let me just list a few things that I didn’t like about the class:

1. The marking is quite random. A- or B+ for almost everyone on almost everything and in all honesty, I think that someone is somewhere flipping a coin. The good news is that I’m getting better and better at caring less about the marks and more about the content. No one in my industry will ask to see marks. This is not to say that I will settle for not doing my best.

2. Everyone has one particular lecture that rubbed them the wrong way, and for me it was the ethics class. Not because I don’t have any, but because I take ethical considerations very seriously and I think that the class was too superficial, to the extent of being trite. It was never once acknowledged that “values” are not necessary ethical. Think about this – people who tout “family values” are often homophobic. And no matter how you slice it, homophobia is unethical. People have also used the notion of “values” to frame racism, sexism, and ethnocentrism – each of which is based in hate or fear. Anyway, I would have liked for this to be probed as a part of the ethical frame class. Whenever we got close to these issues Cragg said “…too theoretical” – well we could have handled it I think. Disclaimer – he might have said “too philosophical”, I forget the exact quote.

3. The mini papers are an annoyance. I’m never in the mood to write one. But to be honest, how often do I say to myself “wow, I really feel like writing a paper now”?

4. The technical online teams class was useless, the team MOU stuff class should have been held earlier, and the personal presentation format was lame. Oh yeah, and the negotiation exercise was kind of stupid too.

Now what did I like?

1. I liked having one class with the other section – it’s interesting to get a sense of them in an academic setting. And I like a bunch of them, even when they aren’t drinking.

2. I respect the goals behind the course – regardless of whether I think they are achievable. Remember when we were told that they made the course because they were graduating smart people with zero people skills? Well that is a problem because people are hired and fired and followed as a leader every day because of their people skills or lack of. No I do not believe that one course is going to teach the socially idiotic (our 85%’s) people skills, but maybe some of the very intelligent people who have never managed people are going to find it useful one day to have though of this stuff. I don’t want my school to be the one known for graduating people who aren’t aware on this level.

3. Reframing. Maybe I like the course because it echoes some of my personal convictions, but I am a HUGE fan of getting different unexpected perspectives. When I was working at the CBC I befriended a guy who spent 20 years in prison. At a glance, I don’t have much in common with him – but I had a great time finding a frame of reference that we could share, and also learning about his perspective. I’ve always had a strange habit of befriending the unexpected because it gets dull to always hang around people who think the way you do (although those people may be more satisfying to discuss some things with… like clothes).

4. I learned a few things. Some of those MOU lessons are valid. I was forced to get out of my comfort zone to confront a problem and being forced out of your comfort zone is almost always a good thing. At least as far as learning in concerned.

5. As I said earlier… all about the shades of grey. I like that complexity thing better than the machine model. My world certainly operates that way.

6. It is a nice break from the really “businessy” classes like accounting and economics.

7. I got to know some great people in my 5150 group that otherwise I might not have made an effort to get to know.

8. OK – I will admit, the first lecture thrilled me because Pat Bradshaw said she was operating from a radical feminist frame. I did not expect to hear that on my first day and nothing could have pleased me more. Actually, it may have been even cooler had she said she was operating from a radical feminist separatist lesbian frame… but that would have been too repetitive of my undergrad classes.

That’s my summary. I know that there are lots of different opinions. let’s argue them out.




  1. It’s difficult for some people to seperate learning from grades. Most people think they need to get good grades in order to learn or to prove that they have learned. If you go into this class with the attitude of only trying to get a good grade, you will go crazy. You need to approach it with the attitude of how learning this information will help you in the future, and there is no doubt that some of it at least will.

  2. Pat Bradshaw was anything but radical and feminist in her lecture however. Tres dissappointing. She was vague, her logic had holes in it and her metaphors were confused and somewhat weak. She did tie the course well together, but I was expecting to be impressed and I was far from.

    Is it bitchy to have made an appointment with her to discuss her article? Or just utterly pompous and stupid?

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