Colleges should focus more on liberal arts

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by quentinc, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. NaMusa75

    NaMusa75 New Member

    Nov 2, 2005
    Unfortunately, SoCal
    Good god. It's like I'm arguing with a 5 year old. No matter what anyone says in this forum is going to be ground into pixie dust until someone sees it exactly your way.
     
  2. NaMusa75

    NaMusa75 New Member

    Nov 2, 2005
    Unfortunately, SoCal
    Or the kid is coasting.
     
  3. NaMusa75

    NaMusa75 New Member

    Nov 2, 2005
    Unfortunately, SoCal
    Holy inflated GPA Batman, you guys get an 8.0 for an A on an AP Class?

    There's no way in hell that the system would work on a public school class. I went to a college prep school where less than 5 people out of a graduating class of 400+ DON'T go to a 4-year college.

    But hey, good on you for wanting to improve. You should see some of the crap I see in corporate emails . . .
     
  4. NaMusa75

    NaMusa75 New Member

    Nov 2, 2005
    Unfortunately, SoCal
    I totally agree with you on this. I used to bitch and moan about the well-rounded education bit, especially when I got to college. I always pondered the reasoning in forcing Engineers to take 1/3 of their course load in Humanities and Social Sciences. Now after being out in the work force for more than 10 years, I can see why.
     
  5. quentinc

    quentinc New Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Annapolis, MD
    No, it's a 100 point scale. So if you get a 95 raw grade, it comes out as a 103 in your GPA.
     
  6. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

    Jan 2, 2004
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Try taking a class at a state college that specializes in education.

    Elementary Ed. majors are the worst:
    "Oh my God, why do I have to know this?"

    ...is it too much to try and be smarter than the 9yos you're going to teach?
     
  7. Demosthenes

    Demosthenes Member+

    May 12, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    When I studied abroad in England, I got the impression that their universities are much less oriented toward the liberal arts. IIRC, The students there do not typically take classes outside of their chosen "course" (major). In fact, when I wanted to take a Women's Studies class, I had to jump through all sorts of hoops to get into the class, because it was outside my department (English). And the British faculty seemed rather appalled that I would even want to do such a thing.

    At the time, it seemed like their system had a lot of advantages. Not having to take any breadth requirements, students had more time to focus on their chosen field -- even though they complete their degrees in three years instead of four. The result is that they have the opportunity to study their subject in more depth. I do recall getting poor feedback on the first few essays I wrote that year. This was the same type of work that I was earning A's for at Berkeley. My British professors told me that, although my writing style was clear and lively, my work was insufficiently researched, and my arguments were not original nor insightful enough. They were looking for something more akin to the work expected of graduate students in the U.S.

    On the other hand, I met more than a few people at Berkeley who couldn't write their way out of a paper bag. Mostly science majors. They passed their introductory composition requirements, but they still wrote embarassingly badly. The only reason I didn't run into that phenomenon in the UK was probably that I really know many science majors, or if I did, I didn't have occasion to read their writing. So I couldn't say one way or the other whether the problem exists there.

    So is the solution to this problem a greater attention to the liberal arts? I'm not sure how well that's working. I remember taking basic composition my freshman year. Even though I always excelled in English in high school, and even though this course was specifically designed for people who didn't (I never took the AP test and so couldn't qualify out of it), I did learn a lot in that class. But that's not why I bring it up. I remember one girl in the class who was confused by our first writing assignment, because she didn't know what a thesis was. She was a high school graduate who gained admittance to UC Berkeley, and not only was she entirely unfamiliar with the word "thesis," she was also unfamiliar with the underlying concept.

    Is it really a university's job to teach these basic skills to students? Shouldn't students come to college already knowing basic composition? I would imagine that what employers want is not more liberal arts, but a more literate populace.

    Don't get me wrong. I value the liberal arts education I received, and I wouldn't trade the breadth of what I learned for superior depth or focus on one subject matter. I do believe in the value of intellectual well-roundedness. What concerns me is that the well-roundedness of an American university education isn't really the problem here. I think that more people are entering college with insufficient literacy skills, and that's the reason why more are graduating college with similarly insufficient skills. The problem really needs to be addressed earlier than the university level.
     
  8. nicodemus

    nicodemus Member+

    Sep 3, 2001
    Cidade Mágica
    Club:
    PAOK Saloniki
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Personally, I'm glad it's laid out the way it is. Like many college students, I switched majors and minors and wound up doing something completely different from what I went in with. Sure, that could've happened even if focused simply on major requirements, but I doubt I ever would've taken some of the stuff I eventually went into without broadbased core requirements.
     
  9. ForeverRed

    ForeverRed Member+

    Aug 18, 2005
    NYC
    Club:
    FC Bayern München
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    I agree with you on this.

    My High School had to increase the passing grade for courses over the years because students found it harder and harder to keep up with the material, which in itself was very straightforward. Less and less students were graduating each year I was in HS and even less were taking PSAT's and SAT's to get into college. Most settled for GED's or just dropping out alltogether.

    In my experience, the problem didn't lie with the curriculum in the school or the faculty and the subject material but with the students themselves. There was a lack of motivation among the kids, they were careless and just plain lazy to do any work. A lot of teachers I had were becoming increasingly frustrated with the students lack of concern and their inability to grasp the subjects and it affected their work and consequently the willing students around them.

    Recently they started implementing a grouping of some 4-8 students in a classroom working together on material but that hasn't really shown any signs of improvement. Perhaps it needs more time but something certainly has to be done about here about public education.
     
  10. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    In which case, your complaints about the lack of specificity of your cirriculum are simply pointless. If the grad school you want to go to is different and requires all sorts of different skill sets, what would heavy focus on your major do for you?
    As someone who has gone through the process of applying to graduate/professional schools, I found that more "general" degrees were valued more than "specific ones". Law schools, for instance, don't like taking undergrad business majors, but have no problems with economics majors. In applying to graduate school, diversity of education is a plus, not a hindrance.
     
  11. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Where's "here"? Given what you've described, what exactly other than parental involvement (which is usually the biggest factor in how well kids do in school, btw) is going to solve the problem?
     
  12. ForeverRed

    ForeverRed Member+

    Aug 18, 2005
    NYC
    Club:
    FC Bayern München
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    Here as in NYC, specifically public education. And you're right, parental involvement is the biggest factor and arguebly the largest influence on a child's performance in school. However, schools can stop lowering the standards for graduation and passing courses. I believe the bar isn't set high enough and thats why many kids don't try and end up failing. Also, there isn't enough preasure put on students. For example, when a student was failing a course in my HS, there was no attempt by their counselor or teacher to approach them or talk to them. Maybe thats the teachers being discouraged by the students lack of concern and carelessness in class.
     
  13. Demosthenes

    Demosthenes Member+

    May 12, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This is pure speculation, but perhaps the problem isn't that high school is less rigorous than before, but rather that more people are going to college than ever before?
     
  14. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    And that we expect more people to go to college. The way that the US set up, you need "losers" as well as "winners" - its the mentality of the country. Getting everyone to college blurs that distinction. Or tries to, at least.
     
  15. Wingtips1

    Wingtips1 Member+

    May 3, 2004
    02116
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    HAHA. working in consulting, I had a lot of these folks...
    and just to clarify, lawyers are soulless, not heartless, right?
     
  16. Wingtips1

    Wingtips1 Member+

    May 3, 2004
    02116
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    then why not simply obtain an associate's degree in accounting or medical billing or whatever it is you want to do? that would be easiest and most cost effective for you.
     
  17. Wingtips1

    Wingtips1 Member+

    May 3, 2004
    02116
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    well, fitting in classes when there are scheduling conflicts is something we call self-management. if you can't 'find the time' to fit in your required classes, how are you going to function in a team environment when you have three projects that are now running simultaneously? doesn't bode well for you, I must say.
    the point of graduate school is to provide you an in-depth study of a certain subject. undergraduate education gives you a well-rounded course of study. see the difference?
     
  18. Wingtips1

    Wingtips1 Member+

    May 3, 2004
    02116
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    what did you take? remedial math? introductory french after 3 years of it in high school? american history since 1999?
    if you can honestly say that, you are not somebody that any graduate school would consider admitting.
     
  19. ForeverRed

    ForeverRed Member+

    Aug 18, 2005
    NYC
    Club:
    FC Bayern München
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    Well, other examples of scheduling conflicts are two classes I do need that are always offered at the same time or not offered at all. For example, I have to take these two courses to complete my major which haven't been offered ONCE since I've started college. Now, whether these are supposed to be replaced by other courses or not is not up to me. I have yet to hear whether that will happen or not.

    Yes I do see the difference, thank you very much. I still don't see the use for material I've already learned in HS to be taken again, thats all. I'm just talking about my experience here, because there are probably students who do need it because of their HS's.
     
  20. ForeverRed

    ForeverRed Member+

    Aug 18, 2005
    NYC
    Club:
    FC Bayern München
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    Basic Math, american history, english etc. All that lovely stuff. These are all basic requirements that everyone at my school must take.

    Why wouldn't I be admitted? I'm just following the curriculum of the school, not like I have a choice.
     
  21. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Its an important distinction!
     
  22. Mike22

    Mike22 New Member

    Nov 8, 2005
    Tampa-->KC, Mo
    Didn't bother to read all the previous posts, so pardon me if I'm restating some things.

    I disagree with the title of this thread.

    The "flat" world, created by the expansion of internet usage and high-speed internet access worldwide, has made technical fields even more important. The millions of Chinese and Indian students that are getting high quality degrees in their own countries are not getting those degrees in liberal art fields. They are getting them in Computer Science and Engineering fields. That is the future.

    Don't get me wrong, I loved learning about Geography in middle school (top 10 in my state's Geo Bee), and I love reading history books and books in general. And I certainly appreciate the difference between Tom Clancy and good literature after AP Lit class. But these don't help me get jobs. These will not help me feed a family.

    If US colleges were to focus more on liberal arts, and take away funding from engineering, American students would fall even farther behind the new challenges and challengers from across the world.

    Introduce complex math earlier (like the variable x before high school, please) and start pushing the great students to higher heights.

    The liberal arts are great, so interesting, so fascinating, but from my soon-to-be-over college experience, they do not need more emphasis in American universities.
     
  23. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Maybe you should read the thread.

    And I'll just add in my experience advising students, they have a far too narrow idea of what skills potential employers and grad schools are looking for. And they forget that they'll have an intellectual life outside of work as well.

    Well, maybe not the lawyers. Can you have an intellectual life when you're billing 100 hours a week?
     
  24. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Its an interesting question. I'll have a trainee draft a memo.
     
  25. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Wait, aren't you still not in the workforce? So you're making these determinations how?
     

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