Monday, 7 July 2014

A guide to alternative education courses/ Summer '14. + Andrew Weatherall's 'Music's Not For Everybody' NTS Radio residency. Pt 1.

 photo students_2357903b.jpg

The number of college bulletins and adult-education come-ons that keep turning up in my letterbox convinces me that I must be on a special mailing list for dropouts. Not that I'm complaining; there's something about a list of extension courses that piques my interest with a fascination hitherto reserved for a catalogue of Hong Kong honeymoon accessories, sent to me once by mistake. Each time I read through the latest bulletin of extension course, I make plans to drop everything and return to college. So far, however I am still an uneducated, unextended adult, and I have fallen into the habit of browsing through an imaginary, handsomely printed course prospectus that is more or less typical of them all;

Summer Session.

Economic Theory: A systematic application and critical evaluation of the basic analytic concepts of economic theory, with an emphasis on money and why it's good. Fixed coefficient production functions, cost and supply curves, and nonconvexity comprise the first term with the second term concentrating on spending, making change, and keeping a neat wallet. The British banking system is analyzed, and advanced students are coached in the proper method of filling out a deposit slip. Other topics include: Inflation and Depression - how to dress for each. Loans, interest and welching.

History Of European Civilisation: Ever since the discovery of a fossilised eohippus in the men's toilets at Mario's Cafe on Station Road in Ashington, it has been suspected that at one time Britain and Europe were connected by a thin plinth of land that later sank or became Blyth power station, or both. This throws a new perspective on the formation of European society and enables historians and alcoholics to conjecture about why Europe sprang up in an area that would have made a far better Asia. Also studied in the course is the decision to hold the Renaissance in Italy.

Introduction To Psychology: The theory of human behaviour. Why some men are called 'lovely individuals' and why there are some others you just want to punch. Is there a split between mind and body, and, if so, which is better to have? Aggression and rebellion are discussed. (Students particularly interested in these aspects of psychology are advised to take one of these Winter Term courses; Introduction to Hostility; Intermediate Hostility; Advanced Hatred; Theoretical Foundations Of Loathing.)

Philosophy 1: Everyone from Plato to Camus is read, and the following topics are covered in depth. Ethics: The categorical imperative and six ways to make great fish soup. Aesthetics: Is art the mirror of life, or what? Metaphysics: What happens to the soul after death? How does it manage? Epistemology: Is knowledge knowable? If not, how do we know this? The Absurd: Why existence is often considered silly, particularly for men who wear pointy shoes? Manyness and Oneness are studied as they relate to Each-Otherness. (Students achieving this will move ahead to the next course, Twoness.)

Philosophy XXIX-B: Introduction to God. Confrontation with the creator of the universe through informal lectures and field trips. The New Mathematics: Standard mathematics has recently been rendered obsolete by the discovery that for years we have been writing the numeral five backwards. This has led to a re-evaluation of counting as a method of getting from one to ten. Students are taught advanced concepts of Boolean Algebra and formerly unsolvable equations are delt with by threats of reprisals.

Fundamental Astronomy: A detailed study of the universe and it's care and cleaning. The sun, which is made of gas can explode at any moment, sending our entire planetary system hurtling to destruction; students are advised what the average citizen can do in such a case. They are also taught to identify various constellations, such as the Big Dipper, Cygnus The Swan, Sagittarius the Archer, and the twelve stars that form Lumidees the used car salesman.

Modern Biology: How the body functions and where it can usually be found. Blood is analyzed and it is learned why it is the best possible thing to have coursing through one's veins. A frog is dissected by students and it's digestive tract is compared with man's, with the frog giving a good account of itself on everthing, except curries.

Music Appreciation: In order to "hear" a great piece of music correctly, one must: (1) know the birthplace of the composer, (2) be able to tell a rondo from a scherzo, and back it up with action. Attitude is important. Smiling is bad form unless the composer has intended the music to be funny, as in 'Das Burgermeister', which abounds in musical jokes (although the trombone has all the best lines.) The ear, too must be trained, for it is our most easily deceived organ and can be made to think it is a nose by bad placement of stereo speakers. Other topics include: 'The four-bar rest and it's potential as a political weapon,' and 'The Gregorian Chant: Which monks kept the beat?' Yeats And Hygiene, A Comparative Study: The poetry of William butler Yeats is analyzed against a background of proper dental care. (Course open to a limited number of students.)

Writing For The Stage: All drama is conflict. Character development is also very important. As also is what they say. Students learn that long, dull speeches are not so effective, while short "funny" ones seem to go over well. Simplified audience psychology is explored. Interesting aspects of stage history are also examined. For example, before the invention of italics, stage directions were often mistaken for dialogue, and great actors frequently found themselves saying, "John rises, crosses left." This naturally led to embarrassment and, on some occasions, dreadful notices. The phenomenon is analyzed in detail and students are guided in avoiding mistakes. Required text: A.F. Shulte's 'Shakespear: Was he Four Women?

No comments: