Review Comment

4th Year Russian

December 11, 2010

Kashper, Mara
4th Year Russian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I would say 'I recommend this class and Mara to lovers of Russian', but the fact of the matter is: you haven't really got a choice. If you make it to 4th year Russian, Mara WILL be your teacher. She's the only one.

And she's brilliant. You should be glad you get her as a teacher. She's interesting, passionate, and with a wealth of knowledge and experience to which you can have essentially unrestricted access, if you approach her. And she is oh so approachable. Really, she's extremely friendly, both inside and outside of the classroom.

That being said, all the reviews which say that this class is A LOT of work are absolutely true. The readings can be difficult, class discussion may be a bit overwhelming, the "socheneniya" can be demanding. If you're looking for an easy 4 credit A, this is not the course for you. It's tough. But it's worth it.

Workload:

The syllabus is very... disorganized. Essentially, you'll work through the novel Sofia Petrovna (18 chapters) and various related exercises over the course of the semester. Tests every 3 chapters. 6-8 hours of homework a week for this class.
Sort of take home midterm, not a written test. More like a very long composition in response to a documentary.
Oral final + essay as the final exam.

August 16, 2009

Kashper, Mara
4th Year Russian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Mara teaches Russian the way it should be taught--

Hours upon hours of hard work backed up by a supporting and understanding professor. Don't be deterred by the workload. Really, it's good for you.

Workload:

Pretty rough. Start buying index cards in bulk for all those flashcards.

November 01, 2006

Kashper, Mara
4th Year Russian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I just want to say that this class is A LOT of work. It makes life a little bit rough. Sometimes I think about what a drag it is that there is so much work. There is so much, really, a lot. so much work.

May 16, 2005

Kashper, Mara
4th Year Russian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

So... you think you've made it this far, and Russian will be a piece of cake!? WRONG. Kashper makes sure everyone works their ass off for the semester, and although she's easy on the due dates, you'll be up to your ushi in work. I can safely say that this class took up 1/3 of my homework time. Granted, you will learn a lot, but she's the hardest grader in the Slavic department and it will begin to get to you.
I actually found her to be a delightful lady and I liked her style of getting everyone engaged (don't like the Socratic method? don't take this class). She's approachable and friendly, and invited us to cultural events outside of class, including an end-of-semester dinner.

Workload:

LOTS. Class meets 3x/week and you'll spend 2 hours or more of homework for each one.

May 06, 2005

Kashper, Mara
4th Year Russian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

The long and short of it is: this class is a lot of work to no end. Work must be justified, it must lead to progress. A small class that always starts late and always ends late: the professor acts as if hers were the only class in the world. She assigns work according to this standard. There is no concrete syllabus: she makes it up as she goes and revises it even as it's printing, I swear. Flexibility is good, but anarchy is not.

The verb book she uses (Muravyova) is old and good, but in this class...you will do the same five exercises over and over because the professor has forgotten whether you did them (aloud) already...and she will pass it off as review that she intended in the first place.

You read one text the entire semester - Nedelia kak nedelia (A week like any other). The idea is to learn all the vocab really well...the reality is you are bored out of your mind discussing, three times a week, the reasons why the heroine does not have any time...and how do we know that her husband loves her? The text has no literary value but it suits Prof. Kashper's political agenda. (Topics for the final presentation were such: Children and careers, family relations, abortion: for or against; feminism: for or against. Granted, this class is taught at Barnard...but the biased feminism...an abuse of feminism, I daresay...has no place in the University, especially in a language class.

I learned about human nature in this class - esp. from the way the other students were cowed by the professor and confessed that they would do anything for her...that she was an ice queen whom time would melt. She never treated me as anything other than an unserious school girl. She could not remember - although there were all of five girls in the class - whether I went to Columbia or Barnard; in fact she fondly generalized about "we Barnard women" - God forbid a boy should sign up for this class; he'd lose his mind, except she would probably ironically choose him as her favorite. And she mispronounced my name all the time.

Workload:

Various and sundry exercises for each class; written and oral preparation. The only good thing about this class was that she assigned a term-long story; the only requirement was you write about a hero of your own choosing/invention, day by day. So, seven chapters over the course of the semester, due every two weeks or so. She allowed revisions. She didn't take well to creativity; she preferred you stick to what you knew instead of taking risks. Not the best way to teach language, I think. She unwittingly uttered the phrase that best summarizes her - when someone translated something in a poetic way, or said something using a less standard, more poetic word order, she said, famously, with her sweet smile, "Stikhi budut vesnoy" - The poetry will come in the spring. Meaning, a syllabus in her head dictates that learning occur according to a schedule. The picture of ill-health in education. Avoid this class; study on your own. Read aloud with Russian friends. Go to Middlebury for a summer or two. It'll serve you more, and you will be a happier man.

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