by John Russell Turner
Back in 1980, when I first went to college, I remember a mandatory class that had me and most of my fellows angry. It was called "books and libraries", and it met for an hour, three times a week. What made me angry about being forced to take this class was that I already knew all of the subject matter; it had been taught to me as early as the 7th grade. But there was something more than that making us resentful, as well-the idea that we could be forced to take unwanted classes (or leave the school). If they could force us to take "books and libraries", what else could they force us to take? Who decides these things, anyway? Is there any student, i.e., customer input here?
I doubt it. Most educators I've experienced don't realize, or don't care, that they are providing a service. In other words, students are customers. They are buying an education, and they are within their natural rights to expect something of value in return for their money. They also should have the right to reject specific classes that are directly outside of their chosen major, even if the course would in some way help the student become more knowledgable in his major. Becoming "well-rounded" is something for the student to decide. For example, Professor Numskulle, the educator in charge of determining the curriculum for geology majors, decides that taking three semesters of a liberal arts elective will make a well rounded geology major. Student A, however, disagrees. She would rather take three semesters of a foreign language. Another student would rather use that amount of time to do community service. Some students would prefer to do nothing at all with that time, except relax and maybe watch a little TV. Any student who would game the system if it were completely elective (outside the specific major subject), deserves what he gets when he enters the job market. The rest of us will take courses which will enable us to acquire a marketable skill, and courses that interest us, not some educator's agenda. Time is valuable! Who knows that more than a student, especially one who is working to supprt himself through school? Why should I, the customer, allow my time to be wasted by a teacher who says he thinks taking advanced basket weaving will make me a well-rounded student? Should I not just go elsewhere with my college dollars? Yes!
On a related note, here is a link to a movie on the subject of school indoctrination.
Also, here is another film (I think it's part 2 of the above).