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Friday, September 29, 2023


Unified curriculum vital to solid education

Through the course of students’ collegiate experience, the last thing students critique or dissect is the singular value of core curriculums and their value to students and society.

Granted, one part of this premise is always heavily criticized. The math requirements plague many liberal arts undergraduates.

Despite endless frustration and semesters of stress and dread, mathematical courses still haunt many. The debates dissolve and the material is eventually forgotten.

The argument that students do not need a mathematically intense course during their college education is understandable, but still debatable. Core courses, such as college algebra, history or composition, are required because they serve a particular purpose, despite whether a student values that purpose.

Students should evaluate the quality, purity, efficiency and utility of the courses.

We should strive toward unanimously approving core curriculums that focus on lessons that are free of bias. If this occurs, the opinions of students and professors, along with the leaders of academia, could begin to converge.

The goal of unifying students and professors with leaders of academic institutions to define what is important in education should be worked toward continuously. It is difficult to eradicate politics from a college institution, but focusing on learning fundamental lessons is not.

In a New York Times article published Monday, Stanley Fish proposes an argument on how to teach. One of his ideas is to ‘teach the subject matter and (not) adulterate it with substitutes.’

This enlightening proposal not only makes sense, but would also make education and core curriculums more efficient and useful. Teaching subjects without cheap and useless filler is a solid plan for teaching objectively without confusion.

A concise and accurate lesson, depending on the subject matter, still has potential to be confusing. So, why do so many professors spend time inflating their lesson plans with not-so-subtle undertones and partisanship?

Politics and the overbearing power of academic leaders are part of the reason, but there must be a way to return to basics.

Fish also weighs in on a more evolved question, which focuses on curricular alternatives also discussed by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

‘What can a core curriculum do that the proliferation of options and choices (two words excoriated in an ACTA report) cannot?’ Fish said.

He found an answer written in the same ACTA report.

‘The important benefit of a coherent core curriculum is its ability to foster a ‘common conversation’ among students, connecting them more closely with faculty and with each other,’ ACTA said.

As Fish says in the New York Times article, ACTA’s answer can be obtained no matter what is in the core curriculum. What is in these courses is not as important as professors’ focus on teaching each subject fundamentally and accurately.

Lesson plans that are free of confusing filler will preserve an educational core. If every student has a mandatory curriculum, core plans should always strive to be as unadulterated as possible.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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