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General Education After almost finishing my first year at college I now realize how much work and effort

is required of me. As an engineering student my course load seems to be slightly more demanding that that of other students majors. This is partially how the idea of general education came about for me. It got me thinking about the general education courses Ive taken so far and how they seem irrelevant to the big picture of an engineering degree. With less of a work load, meaning no or fewer general education courses, I could focus more on the core engineering classes that will actually prepare me for my future. Esther Raushenbush studied at the University of Washington where she received both her bachelors and masters in English. She then went on to be a professor and serve on the board of various educational institutes. Sheldon Rothblatt went to Berkley where he studied history and is now a renowned scholar of British and European history. He also serves as a faculty associate with the Center for Studies in Higher Education. Rothblatt defines general education as the purposeful attempt to provide a particular group of students with common core knowledge, skills, and values. Raushenbush states that interest in what students study has always been a matter of great importance to educators, and it must continue to be, whatever educational philosophy lies behind their planning. It seems self-evedent to Rothblatt that some configuration of courses should be required of undergraduates on campuses throughout the country. The question before us here concerns prospects: How long is the current commitment to requirements likely to last and how effective are the new courses programs likely to be. He goes on to say that the effectiveness of an institutes general education program is likely to depend on the

strength of a facultys commitment to it and the institutions willingness to provide resources for it and to recognize the work of those who teach it. Raushenbush feels that education in this country is moving toward an even greater increase in the numbers of young people in our community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities, and with the increase in number will continue to come the increase in diversity. If we suspect that no one kind of program will be appropriate for all students in our colleges now, certainly no one kind will be appropriate for those whom we will have in the future. Obviously these students will seek many different life goals and will reach them in many different ways. Their education must help them discover their best abilities and formulate the values by which they will plan their lives. Raushenbush presents the idea of a quite different conception of general education, based on instrumentalism, rejects the idea that all students should follow the same course of study. It holds that the sequence of studies that is appropriate for some students might be entirely inappropriate for others. It rejects the idea of intellectual disciplines as the only approach to learning. They both agree on the fact that whether we attribute the origins of the idea of the love of knowledge being it own reward to Aristotle or to Plato and Pythagoras, the fact must be that all education, including general education, is by definition practical. How it is practical is the operative question. Is it broadly or narrowly useful, general preparation for life in the world or for a specific career? Even this polarity hardly exhausts the possibilities of utility. When it comes to choosing sides on the matter of general education it is easy for me to say that I am against it. I feel Raushebush made a good point about thinking of education in a different way. The fact that general knowledge may not be relevant to everyone is what I agree with the most. Each students course of study should be tailored

to them and their specific interests. The biggest reason behind my dislike is the fact that I dont want to pay for and spend time on courses that seem to have no foreseeable use in my future plans. After taking four years worth of mandatory courses in high school I feel that was all the general education I needed. Im not saying these fundamental classes shouldnt be offered I just think it should be an option for students to take or not. With less of a workload I could see many students getting better grades and in turn becoming more competitive when entering the work force. One final thought brought up by both authors that I completely agree with is that education, even general education, is useful.

Works Cited MacLean, Malcom, Esther Raushenbush, and T. McConnel. General Education. Chicago: Distributed by the U of Chicago, 1952. Print. Purves, Alan, Sheldon Rothblatt, and Phyllis Franklin. Cultural Literacy and the Idea of General Education: Eighty-seventh Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Chicago, Ill: National Society for the Study of Education, 1988. Print.