We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Except when you need a specific course for a specific purpose or requirement (eg Physical Chemistry), I recommend choosing courses by the teacher, not by the topic.
At a medical meeting recently, I found myself making the same mistake I have often made: picking meetings by topic instead of by speaker. You can get more out of a brilliant person talking about Coke vs. Pepsi than you can from a mediocrity discussing your medical topic of interest.
Which brings me back to one of my favorite issues--accurate CV's.
I am appalled by the lack of integrity today's universities are supporting in the name of some type of equity.
Here is the problem: if you want to know the best (most experience in the field, most academic experience, etc.) you must have an Curriculum Vitae (CV) that reflect the dates of each course studied, or taught, and the dates of any actual job experience. PARENTS of college aged students must insist on seeing this information. An honest department will require each of it's faculty; tenured, or not; assistant, associate, or full professor; core faculty, or visiting. ANYONE walking into the classroom must post on the department's website a COMPLETE CV--that includes dates ladies and gentlemen--it also assumes a willingness to be accurate! Without this information students have no idea whose classroom they are walking into and parents have no idea of what they are paying for. However, the trend today is to not require that information of the teachers. The supporting argument for failure to provide actual experience and dates is that white guys have been in the field longer and look better (more qualified and talented). GET BUSY PARENTS and GRANDPARENTS--here is one small thing you can do to help clean up this mess: write to the college president and point out to him that Professor so/so has not posted a complete CV. Ask where you can find that information. If the whole damn department doesn't post then be sure to ask the president why?
Oh and one more thing: Be sure you don't tell them who your student is--those people are spiteful and mean SOB's! But, you too have an obligation to protect this country, and this is a relatively harmless thing you can do. It's not like I am telling you to sign up for Afghanistan duty!
Just ask for complete CV information--dates and actual tasks performed. Also, if you read through the list of published documents and you keep seeing a particular woman whose name is printed first on the article, or paper, and then followed by a bunch of men. You can count on one thing being true for most of the time. The guys did the actual work, and the gal acted as "facilitator" (managed the calendar and scheduled meetings). She did not, nor does she likely have the real intellectual skills required to do a true scientific research paper--not if she is in academia!
Once when I was looking to take a certain math course, I sat in on a lecture before enrolling. The prof talked a mile a minute, put very little on the board, so you couldn't keep up with him. THEN, 50 minutes into a 75 minute class, he finished his lecture and opened up the class for questions. Had he slowed down, there would have been less need for questions. I decided I would find another section.
A PChem story. The prof who taught the year before got bad feedback. Teaching over the heads of the students- better suited for grad students, I guess. You mean you didn't cover quantum field theory in Freshman Chem? So there was a different PChem professor the year I took it. The professor I had could write his lecture on the board with only occasional glances at his notes- which he didn't carry with him while he wrote on the board. The course was still hard: as brian says, PChem is a killer. But at least the professor wasn't an impediment to learning the course. (As you learn the material when you grapple with it by yourself, the prof is used either as an introduction or as a review.)
But famous is not necessarily good. A cousin of mine took a course from a Nobel Prize Winner - a science category. My cousin said the guy was a lousy teacher.
Ol Einstein was famous for two things with regard to being a professor: he could not teach worth a darn, and he wrote letters of glowing recommendation for each/every student that asked. Got so that people in the field looked twice at a student with a letter of recommendation from the old man!