If I Ran the Zoo

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John Leo is an established writer and has served as associate editor or editor for several magazines including The Catholic Messenger, Commonweal, and The National Catholic Reporter, and contributing editor at The Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. He has also taught journalism at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, and non-fiction writing at Southampton College on Long Island, New York. In 2008 “If I Ran the Zoo” (also known as “If I Ran the Campus”) was published on the web site of the National Association of Scholars.

“If I Ran the Zoo” is one of several poems in the series “If I Ran the Zoo,” in which various contributors described what they would do if they were in charge of higher education. Leo’s poem is written in Dr. Seuss rhyming style and starts by stating “If I ran the campus, I’d start anew; I’d make a few changes, that’s just what I’d do.” My interpretation of this that changes need to be made in higher education, not massive overhauls, but changes never the less. The poem goes on to tell about some of the changes he would make.

Leo starts by stating he would “have some professors who teach undergrads.” In many of the larger Universities, TA’s teach undergrads and Professors teach the remaining students. Leo also addresses this with the comment “But do students want teachers who are just their own age?” In all actuality, probably not; it is expensive to attend institutions of higher education and to have two students paying the same amount for tuition, one gets a Professor, and one gets a TA, that’s kind of hard to swallow. Leo also tackles the fact that some teachers only give A’s for the work completed in their classes. Leo continues to state that these teachers should practice giving B’s and C’s. I interpret this to mean that these teachers should reevaluate the material, exams, and grading policy to see why it is that all of these students are receiving A’s. Could it be that these teachers are not challenging their...
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