November 29th, 2006

not rainbow brite

(no subject)

Okay, so tonight Jordan and I had a discussion about general education classes in both college and high school. This was in bed just as we were getting ready to go to sleep. So of course, it kind of randomly ends, and I'm left all huffy and frustrated and WIDE AWAKE and he pretty much just drops right off to sleep. And after he falls asleep, I THINK UP A RESPONSE TO HIS LAST ARGUMENT! So I'm posting it here, because if I don't say it, I will not sleep tonight. Basically, my side of the argument was that general ed classes are dumb and forcing kids to take classes they are not interested in is pointless because they won't learn anything anyway. I took three years of science in high school and a year in college because I was required to, and my retention level is probably sixth grade. His argument was that kids don't know what they are really interested in in high school or even in the first year of college sometimes, so requiring students to take general classes exposes them to something they might enjoy but might not have taken on their own. He also said that it's important to learn not just because you are interested in something but simply for learning's sake, to be a well-rounded person. That's pretty much where we left it. But here's what I have to say, that I thought about just now.

If the goal of general education classes, like three years of science in high school, three years of history, two of math, four of English, whatever, is to turn the person into a well-rounded person who appreciates learning for the sake of learning, I think it fails superbly. I think that it in fact does the opposite, and it makes students hate learning for the sake of learning. Forcing a student to take a class that they have no interest in at a time when they are most impressionable just makes them feel like it's pointless and actually promotes the idea that high school and college are just things that you have to do for a good job. If you let students take classes in areas that they enjoy learning about in high school, they might just develop an enjoyment in learning itself, and as they get older and become more mature and are ACTUALLY ABLE TO APPRECIATE LEARNING FOR LEARNING'S SAKE, SOMETHING I DON'T THINK MOST HIGH SCHOOLERS ARE ABLE TO DO, they will have an open attitude toward learning and will be more willing to take classes that may not have been on their interest level in an order to simply learn more about their world. I think that it's much more important at that level of development to foster the idea that learning is interesting, and that forcing students to take classes that are meaningless to them at that time, even if years from now they may appreciate it, is backwards. It accomplishes the opposite of what it is meant to.

I think that if I had been allowed to take classes I was interested in in high school, I would have been more likely to want to learn. When I got to college, I came with the attitude that "yes! It's college, I can take the things that I want to learn about and I don't have to take the stuff that I don't want to take" and as soon as I found out that I was still required to take a science, and a history, and a government, and a foreign language class (but not the one that I wanted, that one wasn't in my program), I shut down. General education courses ground out my desire to learn, and I am only just now starting to get it back. Had I got to college and actually been able to take classes that I was interested in and was not forced to take joke classes, I might have chosen to take other classes that sounded interesting but were more diverse, such as philosophy, or art, or ancient history (nope, couldn't take that, had to take yet another American history class, and be retaught the same stuff I was taught and didn't care about in high school, because it was the same stuff I learned in 8th grade. History doesn't change, so why did I have to take the same class three times?)

Okay, I guess that's it. I'm going to find the benedryl and try to sleep now. Fuck, tomorrow is going to suck it hard.