General education requirements; they are both boon and bane of a liberal arts education. While they are often a topic of hatred amongst students trying to fill credit requirements, they can also be a gateway to a minor, second major, or a new major altogether.
With that said, gen. eds have a critical obligation to fill at a college. They serve to immerse students not just in an education, but also to provide them with a solid footing to be a functioning individual in society. They provide opposing viewpoints and perspectives critical to development.
The Oswegonian believes a solid general education program can be a make or break factor for a college. A program that is infrequently updated and whose classes lose relevance over time only breeds dissent. Unfortunately, Oswego State’s gen. ed. program is beginning to show its age.
Too often, classes evolve to fit the gen. ed. requirement they fulfill. That usually means dumbing down material and teaching to the lowest common denominator. To us, that’s missing the forest for the trees.
This week we looked at CSC 101, a course required by almost every major on this campus. The course was implemented as a requirement in 1998 and remains in place today. It covers basic computing; things like using the internet and a word processor. Think about the state of technology in 1998. Most of those attending college didn’t have their own cell phone, and AOL was still trying to log onto the Internet. Surely, this course was a necessity when many homes still remained disconnected from the Internet.
A lot has changed in technology and technology literacy in 11 years, yet the course still teaches a chapter on how to use the Internet. It’s mandated courses like these that, in our opinion, make students cringe at the phrase gen. ed. Granted, some courses can be tested out of, but sometimes those opportunities are not publicized or well-known.
General education classes could be informative and inspiring–but currently, most are not. That’s a shame for a college which prides itself on being at the cutting edge of public education at an affordable price.
A program of general education is an opportunity for every student to be a renaissance man or woman. But more often it turns students into gears in a machine that runs on credits and checklists.
What we deserve is a system which enlightens and allows us to consider life’s great questions–to deviate from the specialized script of a major. What we get instead is CSC 101.
It is encouraging to hear that Faculty Assembly is now taking the time to re-evaluate Oswego State’s program and giving it a much-needed refresher. Unfortunately, ten years seems too long of a time frame to embark on such a process.
The current re-evaluation process looks like it will take at least two years to fully implement. For the sake of the student body, we hope it will not be 2021 before gen. eds. receive another critical look.