As a student of Paul Orfalea’s class, I am left both disheartened and shocked regarding the slander surrounding this class, especially when a majority of it has been conducted by my fellow Cal Poly student body and faculty.
A majority of the claims, such as students were handpicked, are simply false. Not only did we have to be part of the green light program — which is based on quantifiable SAT and ACT scores, not college grades — but we also had to have maintained a high grade point average throughout college.
In addition, I know that the free food and a so-called “easy A” were not the factors that led me to enroll in this class. I am fully capable of feeding myself and I earn A’s in virtually every class I take (business and general education classes alike), therefore my reasoning for taking this class had to do with the priceless experience of learning from an individual as amazing as Orfalea.
Most people seem to think that we simply showed up to class, haphazardly filled out geography quizzes and went on our merry way. However, in-depth current event readings were assigned each week where we had to think critically in order to analyze and ask questions about matters such as the war in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan, the price of gold, our current economy, our government and other various foreign affairs.
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Active participation in each class was not only encouraged but strictly mandatory. Speaking in front of peers as well as a man like Orfalea gave me the confidence that I could not have gained in any other class. In addition, I read three texts throughout the span of the quarter. As with most classes offered at Cal Poly, you get back what you put in.
True, we did not have midterms and finals where I simply regurgitated answers onto Scantron. The grading was unorthodox, however I have never been as motivated to do well and actually learn the material as I was in this class.
Being surrounded by some of the most intelligent and driven students that I have ever met was more incentive to do well and learn the material than merely receiving a letter grade.
I have taken far too many classes where I easily achieve an A (while doing a fraction of the work I did in this class) and take away virtually nothing. In Orfalea’s class, I learned practical life lessons that I can actually apply directly to my job that I have upon graduation, and for that I will be eternally grateful to Orfalea.
If anyone should be at fault here, it is Dean Dave Christy for mislabeling the class and not properly notifying the rest of the faculty. Please do not slander Orfalea or the students in the class. I learned more from Orfalea in that one quarter than I have from most of my classes taken here at Cal Poly and none of it could have been learned from a textbook or generic lecture on Powerpoint.
I’m just thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in his class and feel sorry for students in the future who may be deprived of this valuable experience merely due to classroom politics.
Darcy Pollock is a student at Cal Poly.