We all made it out of high school, leaving behind the classes that felt pointless and unrelated to our interests to focus solely on the subjects that we’ll use in real life. College is all about choice and streamlining to our future -- or so we thought.
It’s understandable that students would get frustrated with having to take general education classes. Once we find our major, we tend to want to focus on only that topic. We think, why does a nursing major need to take an English class? Why, as an elementary education major, do I need to endure an astronomy lab? We overlook the actual reasoning for gen. eds and instead focus our energies on retaliation. We gripe, avoid and slack off.
At Valpo, we all are either currently in, or have already been through Core as freshmen. Complaints about this class start early, and though they are admittedly pretty creative, they can get excessive.
As a freshman, I am hearing everyone's different opinions on the class. From what I have experienced, you get out of a class what you put into it. The students who sit and don’t participate have to endure a long 50 minutes of other people talking, while the ones who actively participate in discussion may actually gain an understanding of other people's opinions. Actively participating in Core allows us to learn from each other, as opposed to just the professor.
The discussion-based lecture is a new experience for most freshmen, as many of us just finished four years of being talked at by a teacher in high school. In one text we discuss, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire, we learn the difference between being taught something and truly gaining the experience of active education.
In Core, we are given the opportunity to participate in a class rather than just sit through a lecture of information that we need to memorize. We come to class expected to discuss and argue. The fact that my professor can be genuinely excited when we show a valid argument against him really highlights the importance of open education. The core professors do not want us to accept everything they say as fact. Core gives us the opportunity to learn about Chinese, Native American, third world and many other cultures.
General education classes play a huge role in American schools; it’s a part of our education system that we can take pride in over other countries. According to “The Journal of Higher Education,” the U.S. education system is comprised of 30 percent gen. eds. The journal places the beginning of the “general education movement” in the mid 1900s, and since then the importance of general education in schools has significantly grown. As colleges and universities began to realize the importance of general education, they began adopting the ideas behind it. By taking gen. eds, students can expand their knowledge on topics that they would not otherwise get to learn about.
Liberal arts colleges thrive on this idea of a versatile education, constantly expanding world views through a general education that moves beyond specialized degrees. A meteorology major may not actually think they need to take a psychology course, but the benefit of furthering their education is worth it. Through general education classes we are given the opportunity to learn beyond our major, and despite how easy it can be to have misgivings in the moment, this is not something we should take for granted. General education classes are implemented for a good reason: to keep our education expanding. This is education for life, not just a career.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Quinn Stearns at firstname.lastname@example.org.