Out with the old rules, in with the new

Why is there a need for so much “”general education””?

Eleanor Roosevelt College requires its undergraduates to take 19 general education courses, or 76 units. You know what that means for the student? Nineteen courses of subjects that we could not care less about.

I have heard the arguments for having a comprehensive GE course setup. It gives students a broad education. It makes sure they have some understanding in a variety of areas. After taking the GE course lineup, students will not have deficiencies in certain fields of their education.

Like communism, this theory works better on paper than in practice. Just because students are required to take certain courses does not mean students will attend the lectures or attempt to learn the information.

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People say that GE classes such as Making of the Modern World, the ERC humanities course, result in well-rounded students. Well, how well-rounded are these students when they learn so little in these classes?

Students learn what they want to learn — nothing more. They will do what is necessary to garner themselves a decent grade. The grade is what is important in these classes, not the material.

After going through two years of MMW, I can safely say that the majority of students there did not want to be taking the course. Many students regularly skipped classes. Many did not study or do the reading at all, relying instead on cram sessions before midterms and finals.

The result of this? These students were not truly learning anything. They actually retained very little information.

Now, I am certainly not calling for attendance rolls or weekly tests on the material to ensure that students are studying. Doing so would only antagonize students further.

College should be about learning the subject or subjects that interest you most. It should not be about learning material that some committee of administrators thinks is good for you. Forcing students to study in areas other than what they are interested in often results in disinterest and dissatisfaction among the student body.

I did not come to this school to study sciences, math or non-Western fine arts. I do not have any great desire to learn about these subjects.

Many students have similar attitudes. Want proof? Look at how many students would like to transfer to Muir College, the one with the fewest GE requirements.

What is there to do about these classes? Simply tone them down. If GE courses must be in place, require two courses in math or science, two in literature and two in fine arts or language. Students can then get these courses out of the way quickly and focus on the material that actually interests them. Your computer science and engineering friend could actually graduate in four years with you.

By not having to take two years of garbage, I would not have had to take courses such as astronomy or oceanography, which have little value toward my writing skills. Does knowing how many moons Jupiter has makes me a better writer? No. Does knowing how the coastal currents near California work make me a better person? No.

Reducing GEs will result in happier students and even happier professors, who no longer would have to teach so many disinterested people. In some of these courses, it is obvious that the instructors do not want to be there. While they probably will not admit to this boredom, it is clearly present. What does this do to the students, seeing their professors look as listless as they feel? Not much good.

Do a favor to the students and professors. Eliminate these outdated requirements. Give students more freedom and variety in the classes they can choose. Let the professors teach people who actually want to be there. The more freedom and flexibility, the better.

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