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Reply #8: College has changed [View All]

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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-04-04 08:22 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. College has changed
and the dividing line was the Reagan administration.

Before that, the normal path was to major in whatever liberal art interested you and take a wide variety of distribution requirements. When you graduated, companies such as banks would hire you and put you through their own training program.

I went to a "Podunk" school, even though it was located in a city, and we had to take two terms of writing, three terms of world history, two terms of literature, a year of lab science, political science or economics, philosophy, sociology, one other social science course of our choice, three religion courses, and one fine arts course selected from art, music, or theater. That was in addition to our major.

By the time I got into teaching ten years later and came back to the same school, companies had stopped hiring anyone but business majors, and the vast majority of the students were majoring in business--unless they were majoring in computer science or pre-med. Because of this, the business department began to call the shots and demanded a reduction in the general ed requirements so that the future young capitalists could be thoroughly trained in the ways of corporate America by graduation.

They also told the business majors which courses they had to take to fulfill their (greatly reduced) general ed requirements. This caused tremendous imbalances in the curriculum as certain courses were packed and others were canceled for lack of enrollment.

Other faculty members told me that students were actually afraid to take something that wasn't business or computer science.

At other schools later on, I found the business majors to be uninformed, unimaginative, and generally not the best students. I taught Japanese, mostly to business majors, and I had to start off each new beginning class with a lesson about where Japan is, and no, it's not the same as China or Korea. I wanted the students to know that there was a whole complex country connected with those giant corporations, so I required culture credits each term, in which the students had to do things like read a Japanese novel in translation, see a Japanese movie, go to an exhibit of Japanese art, or something on that order, with different point values assigned to different activities.

Students would come up to me and say, "I want to do something connected with Japanese business for my culture credits."

And I would say, "There's more to Japan than just business. Here's a whole shelf of books on Japanese culture and society."

And they would grumble.

By the time I got out of academia, I no longer believed in what I was doing.
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