By Gerson Moreno-Riano, July 30, 2008 in Uncategorized
Both Lee and Phil have raised the issue of general education requirements as well as the processes that often are in place at various institutions for the creation of the general education core.
One of the issues that has been raised is the self-interested and factious nature of general education committees. Every member is looking out for his or her major or department with little thought about a good and virtuous education for the students.
I think, however, that there may be another problem lingering in the background. Maybe I am wrong about this but if so will trust my colleagues here to correct me.
In my experience, most faculty engaged in general education committees and discussions about the core really do not understand liberal arts education, the purpose of general education, and, frankly, the purpose of education in general. They have been educated so narrowly in their own Ph.D. programs that they have never had the opportunity or maybe even desire to read and think broadly and philosophically about education and the epistemological and axiological dimensions of education and human life. Consequently, they tend to consider education as indoctrination or an extension of an unenlightened self-interest. Thus, it seems to be the case that for these colleagues the notion of liberal arts education in the core is just sugar coating what they consider to be indoctrination and the raw will of a few zealots. Changing this opinion is a difficult task since it stems for years of abuse.
What are we to do? I have some ideas on this but before I venture further would be interested in the input of others on this discussion.