Hot on the heels of showing us documentaries about porn, in sociology section we watch an episode of the Simpsons before filling out a pretty regimented questionnaire about its sociological import (“Does Bart’s new job create a role conflict?”). Instead of handing the questionnaires in, the teacher calls on volunteers. I get off one comment, asking why grades are necessary at all. It is received with the classic “what an interesting idea” from the teacher, who says it with a tone that indicates the idea sounds like it’s from Neptune.

To be clear, this is sociology section, quite distinct from sociology class itself, which I enjoy greatly and is not afraid of such questions.


Girl: “I’ve had three nervous breakdowns and they’re not that bad.” Nervous breakdowns? “[You know,] to the point where you can’t stop crying for days.”

Heavily made-up girl: (in an indignant tone) “You know, everyone is always bashing Western civilization.”

One has an odd feeling of invisibility hearing these sorts of things, as if you’re there, but not really.

At MIT, the classroom buildings are given numbers. At many other schools, they’re given names. Stanford has tried a bold experiment: it gave them both names (Lane Hall, Jordan Hall, etc.) and numbers (Building 160, Building 200). The result? Which do students use? Neigher. They are almost universally referred to by their contents and location (History Corner, the Psych Building, etc.).

posted November 29, 2004 01:09 AM (Education) (5 comments) #


Stanford: Day 55
Barry Scheck on the Dark Side of Justice
Stanford: Day 56
Stanford: Day 57
Stanford: Day 58
Stanford: Day 59
Network News Presidents on the Election
Stanford: Day 60
Stanford: Day 61
The People Themselves: A Debate
Subject to the Penalty of Death


Most of the buildings at MIT have names, too, and some of them (Green, Kresge, Stata) even get used.

posted by Karl Ramm at November 29, 2004 07:03 AM #

If you ask why grades are necessary at all, you’ll get Neptune. If they people who write the cheques ask, well - maybe things might change.

Hey, wait a minute, you’re paying for this, right?

posted by Robert Brook at November 29, 2004 09:02 AM #

At Vassar, the buildings have names, and the students (at least when I was there) used them. Of course, Vassar is pretty small (2,400 undergrads) and departments often shared buildings.

posted by Justin Kim at November 29, 2004 10:48 AM #

The building numbers @ MIT (at least when I was there many years ago) were intended to narrow down the physical location of the building. Further, MIT departments and classes were also numbered; the basic CS class is 6.001, for example.

posted by Larry Rosenstein at November 29, 2004 07:18 PM #

Here at VUW the buildings have names, and people tend to use them. It helps that we tend to also refer to rooms by their “names” (Building Code + Number).

posted by Patrick Quinn-Graham at November 30, 2004 04:03 AM #

Subscribe to comments on this post.

Add Your Comment

If you don't want to post a comment, you can always send me your thoughts by email.

(used only to send you my reply, never published or spammed)

Remember personal info?

Note: I may edit or delete your comment. (More...)

Aaron Swartz (