College Classes

Do You Remember Any of It? 

Recently I thought about my college education, both undergraduate and graduate. Without access to my transcripts, I made a list of classes I can remember. My challenge: Can I remember anything about those classes… going back 65 years? Maybe just one sentence. Maybe just one word. My challenge to you – can you remember even one takeaway from your college classes?

One Takeaway Idea From Each Class I Ever Had

Lower Division and General Ed

English 1A: Hate Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Biology I: Nematodes in a frog’s stomach

Sociology: Reality of black lives I never knew

Geology: The flood never happened

French I / II: Oui, merci

Spanish I / II: Adios, gracias

Shakespeare: I hate fuckin’ Shakespeare.

American History: Eli Whitney’s cotton gin

World History: Greek civilization

Art 1: Venus Di Milo

Art 2: the Impressionists

Drawing: Perspectives, about 1250.

American Short Stories: I love Theodore Dreiser

Philosophy 1: Plato and Socrates – who knew?

Philosophy 199: Martin Buber, I-Thou, and LSD


Psych of Personal Development: Strong Interest Inventory: I should not be an accountant. Really?

Psych 1A: Goddamn it, why aren’t we learning about Freud?

Psych 1B: Behaviorism, 1925. Dr. Clearance W. Brown, PhD, boring as piss.

Psych 100: The neurilemma sheath and the fissure of  Rolando. Freud is highly theoretical.

Personality Theory: Is it nature or nurture?

Psych History and Systems: More to psychology than Freud, Rogers, and therapy. Leipzig Germany, 1870.

Social psych: Lower classes dress up on Sunday, middle   classes dress down.

“Nothing is more practical than a  good theory,” Kurt Lewin

Group process: Put the chairs in a circle.

Clinical psych: Schizophrenia is a reasonable adjustment  to a crazy world = total bullshit. According to Freud,

“The goal of therapy is to turn neurotic misery into ordinary unhappiness.”

Educational Psych: Summerhill

Child Development: Baby monkeys prefer a cloth wire mother without a bottle to a metal wire mother with a bottle.

Child Psychology: Freud – we are determined by early sexual events / Skinner – we are determined by what gets reinforced / Rogers – none of that is true. We have choice.

Tests and Measurement: the Rorschach, projective techniques, and the Myers Briggs are all nonsense.

Statistics I: 32% improvement / when? where? control group?

Statistics II: Standard error of the Mean

Psychopathology, minor variants: So, I’m not psychotic, only neurotic.

Experimental Psych: The null hypothesis

Overheard in the faculty lounge at SF State: “Without psychic determinism, there is no psychology.”


College Algebra: Quadratic equation is cool

Trig: the Pythagorean Theorem

Calculus: Jesus, are you kidding me?

Chem 1A: Avogadro’s number: 6.022 × 10²³

Chem 1B: It’s a balance, not a scale

Organic Chemistry: The magical  benzene ring

Biochemistry: The Krebs Cycle

Zoology: Ontogeny Recapitulate Phylogeny

Genetics: Mutation is totally random. There is no plan.

Cell Physiology: Semipermeable membrane

Bacteriology: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek’s microscope. Penicillin replaces bacterial cell membrane molecular structure, killing the pathogen.

Human Physiology: Activities necessary for life feel good

Recent Photography

Can’t ride my bike anymore, so what to do with it? Well, of course, turn it into a planter in the front yard.


Biden, “The government will cover all the expenses to rebuild the Francis Scott Kay Bridge.”

What? Wait a minute. I’m confused. I thought we hated big gubment. Remember Steven Miller, one of Trump’s lackeys famously said, “The government is just a “Deep state cabal of unelected bureaucrats.”  Also, the sacred saint of Republican bullshit, Ronald Reagan, “Government isn’t the solution. Government is the problem.”  My god…we certainly wouldn’t want our tax dollars being used to repair that bridge, would we? Of course the government has terrible budget problems because the good ol’ GOP keeps cutting taxes on our precious billionaires. That will be good for the rest of us since their largess will trickle down to the rest of us. How’s that working for you? Whew.

Hopefully Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Green and others will stop these goddamn socialists in Washington from spending our money on bridge repairs. Maybe Steven Miller and some of his Any Rand rugged individualists will fix it for us. I feel better already. Don’t want big gubment messing in our private affairs.

Abortion and Medical Aid in Dying 

If you believe that clumps of undifferentiated cells are babies and you don’t want to murder them for something as trivial as the future of mother, then I have an idea for you: Don’t have an abortion! Then at the other end of life’s journey, I hear you also hate the idea of people being able to end their lives when they feel ready and want no more suffering. I understand you believe that only god  can take a life. I have another idea for you: Don’t use the legal “right to die” way out. I recommend that you suffer in unrelenting pain and agony in front of your loving family (who are praying for you) until god is ready to take you to paradise (all of which are just pretend). But don’t tell me what to do!

Again, I’m confused. I thought these right-wing looney tunes MAGA types always wanted “Big Gubment off mah back.” Oh, right… I guess that doesn’t apply to my bedroom or my dying bed.

6 thoughts on “College Classes

  1. Susan page says:

    Your college memories are impressive! Reading them is entertaining. And super provocative. No way could I do what you did. I was still too busy trying to grow up during college. Sitting here thinking about it, I remember significant facts from maybe four classes. But it all turned out ok anyway. The photos are wonderful as always.

  2. jim hunolt says:

    wow, rick, your capacity to remember items you studied is very impressive….of all my classes at cal I remember just one: a beginning philosophy class that for the entire semester had us, with empirical reasoning only, discuss the existence, or not, of God….it was on of the deepest challenges I have ever had to express my very sincerest beliefs in a way that could make sense…..each student had to present what they believed with an oral presentation that the entire class would then discuss…..I will never forget that challenge, and how it worked out….

  3. Brad says:

    Rick, Well done on the educational summary.
    Some of the most memorable academic moments from my 4 years at Cal included:
    Chem 1A.., “You should drop this class now, before the grade ends up on your transcript.” But professor there are 30% more students than seats in the lecture hall.
    Philosophy 1 which I believe was taught entirely in German. Thank goodness for “Black Lightening note taking”.
    Calculus 1. “We have decided to throw out the final and pass everyone and based the midterm grades.” I guess the math on the Final Exam didn’t lie… Thank you for taking the high road professor.
    Anthropology 101 with Professor Tim White (who worked with the Leakeys at Olduvai Gorge). The first day of class a student asked when the class covered Creationism? Tim’s response? Same as my Chemistry professor.
    And two fascinating classes from Social Pysch Professor Richard Ofshe who was an expert on cults, thought reform, and mind control.

    Thing most transferable and valuable thing I learned was how to thrive and advocate for myself in a large system.

  4. George O. Petty says:

    The only thing I remember about Philosophy 1A is I had a B+ going into finals and the TA promised that if I got an A in the final I’d get an A in the course. I got an A- in the final and a B+ in the course. That summer I saw the TA on the street so I ran him over and killed him. Really.

  5. Fritz says:

    Great pictures, as always.

    Interesting question, Rick.

    I think I remember more about the people in high school and college than I do about the courses I took. The Class of ’58 at Scarsdale included Richard Holbrooke, David Rusk (son of Secretary of State Dean Rusk), and Francesca Gardiner (daughter of Secretary of HEW John Gardner). I was her escort at the Scarsdale Golf Club Debutante Ball (I know, I know, White Privilege,). What I remember most vividly at Cornell were my SAE fraternity brothers. I remember taking a “New Math” course, wondering what was wrong with the Old Math. At Columbia Business School the courses I remember are Operations Research and Business Law. A bigger memory is having coffee, a hot dog, and chocolate cream pie for lunch every day at the Chock Full of Nuts at the corner of Broadway and 116th street.

    Suggestion for your next question: what are your five biggest takeaways from the “Courses” you have taken at the “School of Life?”

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