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.
Perhaps nowhere is that degradation of the general education curriculum more evident than at the flagship public university in North Carolina – the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill – where students can cherry pick their general education classes from a list of 4,700 courses that run the gamut from “Love, Sex and Marriage in the Soviet Culture” to “The Gardens, Shrines and Temples of Japan.”
It’s a university at which the course “World Society: Sports and Competition” fulfills the same general education requirement as the class called “Comparative Economic Systems.”
Methinks you mean only as ignorant as those who set the curriculum.
I've known plenty of teachers who are upset with how things are structured, but they are limited in what they can do about it, so they 'teach the program'. What other options do they have (aside from walking away and not earning an income, which is an option, but hardly one they can afford to take)?
In my town, there is one employee who earns $100,000 a year to 'set the English curriculum'. I have no idea what that means or why he earns so much to do that. What I do know is I spent a great deal of time helping my kids overcome what I believe is a poorly designed program. The teaching of the program is just fine, however, if you're OK with it.
College is just as bad, though. My son, and any person at most universities today, has a host of 'gut' classes they can take to fulfill their core curriculum. There are probably 15-20 credits of the initial 45 they 'must' take which are difficult, though that difficulty seems to run on a very different scale than when I was in school.
I remember all the 'gut' courses I took, because there were so few. I usually took them when I had two or more particularly difficult classes and needed something to give myself additional time for study.
In the '40s-50s, in the midwest at lease, we called those crib courses. No idea why. In a tough course we crammed just before an exam. I think they call that an all-nighter now, or did in the near past.
It doesn't sound like they really have a curriculum for general studies. I don't mind that they offer a lot of goofy courses, but I certainly don't think they should necessarily apply to a degree. But then I guess it's in keeping with the asinine degrees you can get. Sigh...
"Curriculums are controlled by faculty members who aim to advance their own department’s courses and their own narrow fields of research."
Wow, does that hit the nail on the head.
And this attitude of advancing one's own area or viewpoint of the world doesn't just affect what courses are offered; it also has a huge impact on what other faculty get hired. If you think differently from the hiring commitee (made up of fellow professors) then you most likely will not be hired.
And it is the students along with society as a whole that are missing out on so much by most of the academic world engaging in this "groupthink."
That's at least 4,000 to many. That right there is a exhibit A along with the posh spa like facilities of why the cost of education has exploded.
Gen ed should include a language, review of the great books, i.e., western civ, US history, world history, economics, literature, classical music, art history, writing, and an intro STEM class or two and perhaps a rhetoric class.
Those and perhaps a few more make up the key common core of an edumacated person. You don't need 4,000 courses and all the faculty, staff and facility overhead to cover those essential subjects.
I took a quick look, because one of those sounded legitimate to me (I have a degree in Fine Art from SAIC, which sort of implies a minor in art history).
The class on Gardens, Shrines and Temples in Japan is "ANTH586/ASIA 586". Given that General Anth. is a "10" level course, I'm betting that that class isn't a "general education" requirement, it's a masters level class.
Now, I'm a big proponent of stripping universities back to their original core mission--teaching young men (and women if you insist) about the world and giving them the tools to think about said world. And maybe a smattering of engineering to go along with it.
The should not be job training, that is what technical schools, the University of Phoenix and the myriad of Jr. colleges should be doing.
Looking at the art, artifacts and architecture of a culture is one of the (many) ways of understanding that culture, and that is something universities have always done. Of course 100 years ago it wasn't about Japanese temples, it was looking at the the temples and castles of europe, or the temples and statuary of ancient rome/greece.
It is also the sort of class that almost failed me out of art school. I cannot stand to sit in a dark room and look at badly photographed temples and shrines on fading slides projected on a wall, especially right after lunch and be expected to tell a buddhist shrine from a muslim shrine. Especially since half the time it depended on who owned that ground last.
And I'm willing to bet that in terms of accuracy, utility and academic rigor the "world sports" class was the equal of the "comparative econ" class.
You can use almost anything to teach someone to think, and you can use almost anything as an introduction to culture and history. But you have to want the students to think and you have to want to be honest about the culture.
THAT is what is not happening on our school campii.
William O. B'Livion
My niece, at a flagship state university, had to take a course called Liberal Arts. It was something about using rap music as a guide to something that doesn't matter. She had trouble with the professor over what she wrote. I advised she regurgitate whatever he wanted, get the grade and never look back. The Liberal Arts at most universities are gone.