General Education Forum

I attended the general education requirement forum this evening and despite the small turnout it was still an hour of interesting conversation.

One of the hot topics was the role of the Freshman Seminar and even I felt compelled to get up and put my two cents in, which surprised me because I’m usually not comfortable with public speaking. I have a lot of faith the first year seminar can be a great experience for freshman because it will introduce them to learning at a higher level through class discussion and having a closer relationship with the professor and class mates. They also discussed replacing English 101 with the Freshman Seminar. Students had varying opinions, which were usually directly related to their experience in 101 or the FSEM. If they had a good experience “We should keep 101” and if it was a bad experience, “Lets get rid of it!”

There was a round of applause when they announced that they would be getting rid of the technology proficiency for the incoming class of freshman.

It surprised me (well sort of) that there were students who were clinging to some of the gen-eds and the faculty and older members of the board were pushing to rethink liberal education. In my English class I read an excerpt from a book about the millennial generation (my generation) and how many people  my age are concerned with jumping through hoops and not rocking the boat. That essay mainly discussed students in ivy-league schools, but I think it applies to a lot of people who attended the forum. Aren’t people my age supposed to be rebelling against the system and in support of the radical stuff? Of course that is just a generalization.

What I noticed most is that the students seemed concerned with other peoples education. What I mean by this is, “How will you make sure people are getting that well rounded education?” “What will stop people from taking a bunch of 100 level courses? ” and so on and so forth. These students acted as if these classes would be going somewhere, that by getting rid of some of these gen-eds that the classes would magically disappear or somehow the opportunity to take classes would no longer be viable. The board kept pressing the fact that many classes integrated the requirements already in place and that it wouldn’t actually change the way the professors taught the class.

What question/comment that really stuck out to me was when a student said something to the effect, “When applying for graduate school they will be able to see that I took classes in foreign language, science, english and I will have that wide range of classes under my belt. Students in the future who won’t have this.” Again the idea that these classes are going to disappear. In addition, that student doesn’t seem to have faith that students can take control of their own education. Students are so concerned with the “checklist” of things that need to be done that they can be missing their education. The new gen-eds can be loose enough that students can take control, but give enough support to give people that aren’t quite sure what to do a wide variety options to find a path.

I’ve come away from the whole experience feeling the faculty and board are more excited and free thinking about the students education then the students are about it. What is wrong with this picture?


1 Response to “General Education Forum”

  1. 1 Jerry Slezak March 1, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Great post Shannon. You are on the right track – YOU are in control of your education! A lot of gen-ed requirements can be helpful, but they also take up space in your academic program that you could use to explore other areas of interest.

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