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I took Professor McGrane in Fall 2002. Even now in my junior year, his class remains one of the most memorable classes I've taken here at UCLA.
What I have gained from that class is the ability to think critically about the world and everything in it.
I recommend everyone to take him. Not because he is easy, but because he challenges the mind. I should expect nothing less from any professor here at UCLA. Get your money's worth and take Professor McGrane!
McGrane works magic with the material. One year after his class, he is still the teacher that stands out in my mind as the most interesting and genuinely passionate about his subject. However, you will sometimes be bored in class, be prepared for a lot lot lot of reading, and your grade will be based primarily on two VERY SUBJECTIVE essays. With that said, the class is worth taking just to witness McGrane's magical way of easing his students into a "sociological mindset".
I really enjoyed the beginning of this class but by the end of the quarter, I couldn't wait for it be over. The exploriments started out slow but then we had to do bunch at the very end. They also got a bit tedious. Although I think Prof McGrane has a lot of interesting ideas and approaches the study of sociology in a very meaningful and practical way, his manner is a bit pedantic and overly-theatrical to the point that I felt a bit like he was talking down to me. I am a returning senior and the majority of the class were sophomores so perhaps he was trying to address a younger college group. The (many) videos were worth watching but there were also a lot of books. They were all good books but the amount of reading was overwhelming. For a G.E. requirement (which it was for me), the amount of reading (8 books), exploriments/write-ups (7?), 2 midterm take-home essays, and final take-home essay, was very challenging and a bit frustrating because it kept me from focusing on my class in my major. If you are a Sociology student, however, you may find that this class is very worth your while.
Soc 1 is like a bad high school class. You watch videos all the time and are expected to be wow'ed by McGrane's intellect and the facinating points that he makes over and over and over. He is not approachable at all, unless you like to be creepily stared at with a completely unemotional face. At first the class appears to be easy because there are easy weekly assignments and the example essays he reads in class are easy but the TA's grade much harsher than McGrane would. It is still not that difficult of a class and there are some highly intersting points. There are way too many books and too much reading, but you dont really have to do it.
Very eccentric Professor. He doesn't teach sociology like some other professors would. Very entertaining professor in the beginning because his methods are so differnt from other professors, but it gets old after a while. His exams are all take home essays that ask you integrate the class into a theme and use the readings to support it, which sounds easy, but if you actually want to do all the reading, its hard because for the whole course, i read about eight books. Grading really depends on your TA. Definitely, you take something very valuable with you after taking this course. Highly recommended.