We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, January 6. 2013
We noted in our piece on Visiting Colleges that responsible parents can decide what their kids need to learn in college, even if they go somewhere with minimal core requirements.
This should not be left to the kids to decide, because 1. It's too important 2. We know better than they do what they need to know to be educated adults with an openness to the richness of life, 3. We should have our own ideas about what we want our own kids to know (eg, any kid who doesn't know basic geology is a bore), 4. Colleges, in their pandering to students, tend to not want to tell them what they need to know, and 5. Who pays the piper calls the tune.
Here's an example of Mom and Pop's Minimum Required College Courses for a Liberal Arts education, regardless of major or interests (they can be met with High School APs or equivalent too):
Math and Science: Math through at least first year calc (BC calc), Statistics, Bio with lab, Physics with lab, Chem with lab, Geology intro
General: History of Western Thought (or Western Civ, or whatever it might be called), Art History Survey, Music History Survey, a political science course, Micro and Macro Economics, a Bible-based Christian Theology course, Intro to Accounting (if you can find something like that in a fancy college. If not, take over the summer at a local college. It will be a huge help to anything a person does in life, including volunteer jobs.)
History: American History, European History
Literature: Shakespeare plus 2 other lit courses
This is a minimal foundation for "lifetime learning" and reading. A young person with this foundation ought to be able to discuss almost any subject that comes up - if maybe only superficially - and to know how to learn more about it efficiently when they want or need to do so. Corny but true.
nb: Before you debate me on this, note that these are minimal requirements. You ain't eddicated if you don't know this stuff.
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Compare and contrast with Harvard's "New General Education Curriculum For Undergraduate Students":
'Course it's impossible to tell from the press release what sorts of pc mischief might be lurking between the lines.
It bothers me some that you can't get a good grounding before leaving High School.
But this is way better that the empty calories approach I see at some places.
[I'm deleting part of what I tried to post tos see if I can discover why you think I am a spammer.]
[OK, now I'll add a bit more.]
Somewhere we need a "Living" unit, covering things like "How to find where you are on a map", "How to find where you want to be on a map", "How devise a plan, using the map, that will get you from the first to the second".
I can't even remember being too young to know how to find myself on a map, and how to find my way to somewhere else.
[And some more...]
And, "How to decide which is the better 'buy', 10 ounces for 79 hundreds of a dollar an ounce, or a pound for 12 dollars (including the waste because you won't be able to use it up before it spoils).
And how to use the efgf you abcd by weaving in and out of traffic.
[didn't like efgf-what a clock measures and abcd=not spending money or time when you could have.]
And so forth.
We do not think you are a spammer at all, but if you keep weaving through the alphabet like that...
This high tech stuff gets any better, I am going back to Big Chief Tablets and black crayons. Or clay and a sharp stick.
I've always been a big fan of the Trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric) and Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). One might wish to use things of more modern application (these were medieval subjects after all), but two of the three subjects of the Trivium I think are necessary for an education and are normally lacking. These are logic and rhetoric (the last having been completely missing for at least the last century).
Rhetoric is the art of being able to speak well and to persuade. It's gotten a bad reputation. I mean, how often have you heard someone dismiss an argument by saying, "that's just rhetoric!" Unfortunately, we have ended up with a society whose only skills in disputation have become name-calling, or simply ignoring conflicting evidence and hammering on with one's own point.
Or hammering on somebody else's point with out understanding it or the opposition to it.
Bravo Barrister! I quite agree. I would add Logic (which was Philosophy 110 when I took it) and Economics and a Civics and Ethics class. No matter who you are or what you do, you will learn useful skills. And they might help you be a better citizen besides.
Did I have a stoke or are some of the posts getting a tad obscure. Most of my papers in college came back C- too obscure.
Perhaps, we have omitted the most important of the "soft"studies--rhetoric. I truly believe in Upper Level Math, several English courses, Logic, Economics(both), Physics, Chemistry, History, Philosophy (particularly the Greeks, and the Reformation period). HOWEVER, in today's world RHETORIC and the mastering of information are essential to a free people. WIthout an understanding of how rhetoric works, who uses it, and the role it plays in our decision making, our youngsters will be hopelessly lost. I also agree that accounting courses are very important.
Hey - I have economics listed there.
Yes, I'd like rhetoric in the classical sense, and how about an Intro to Law or Law History - which I don't think exists. Also, History of Science - Harvard used to have a great one taught by Stephen Jay Gould.
So many things to learn about. Fortunately, education does not end with college.
It's truly a wonder how students get accepted to college without having at least a base understanding of Algebra, Econ, Bio, Chem, Physics, Geo, US History, and World History.
I humbly suggest that a basic Materials Science course should be part of the minimum college education.
I'd also like to see a class called Living in a Democracy - to repeat everything you should have learned in Participation in Government.
That's the whole point - I do believe that it is a core mission of most colleges to remake the student's view of the world, to mold them to fit the prevailing (leftist) view of the world. That's precisely why many colleges could not care less about high school student understanding of "Algebra, Econ, Bio, Chem, Physics, Geo, US History, and World History", especially the last two subjects. If HS students did understand these topics, they'd know they were being fleeced!
I find it interesting that you consider someone educated without a single English comp class. We have way too many kids who can't write or spell a lick. And frankly, I think we put too much emphasis on math and science and too little on history and english.
Be OK with me if all the tests in the subjects listed were essays.
Some Lit (from several languages) are needed, however.
Funny this post came up yesterday. Out of the blue, today, a family member living in NYC mentioned that she and friends were going to try to bring back good discussion/rhetoric, logic, love of chess, the traditional arts, respect for the rigorous sciences, unrevised informed history, etiquette, and even a revival of swing dance, blah blah, back to cool city culture. Certainly it’s there all over in places, but they want to get some of the younger influential crowd hooked, not necessarily into a misty idealized conservative past (an impossibility anyway in ultra blue Manhattan), but into a clear-eyed unPC western appreciative mode. Lots of luck to them. Glad they’re thinking along these lines, since some of this group grew up really leftist and/or spoiled w/ far-out parents. Perhaps the pendulum will swing back with this generation. No, don’t like that image. Maybe they’ll find some of the best of the past and incorporate it into a responsible and grounded but exciting future that takes off-- like a quantum/ multiversal plane both at rest and in flight?
OK, maybe they need to help me with my science and logic.
no offense, but has it occurred to you that if your children are not capable of making this decision for themselves that they might not get much out of a college education? (whatever one is supposed to get out of a college degree these days...) or that they might be particularly vulnerable to the rampant indoctrination efforts on college campuses? just 2c from someone who has seen the effects of today's "life-support parenting" up close`
For a parent, the hardest thing is to understand what your child does not know. So many things that we know seem so obvious to us that we don't grasp the ignorance of our kids. When my oldest was in grade school we were moving a lotâ€” corporate transfers. We left a school in California before they got to telling time, and transferred to a school in Arizona where they were long past it. It was ages before we discovered that he had no idea how to tell time. That was a minor one, easily corrected at home.
A large number of high schools and colleges in this country assign Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States for basic U.S. History, and thousands of kids grow up believing in a corrupt nation that committed genocide against the Indians, grew economically on the backs of slave labor, was the worst example of slavery in the world and so on. Apparently few teachers know enough real history to understand bunk when they encounter it. There was a video of college student-in-the-street interviews done around Thanksgiving, and all had been brought up on Zinn, and thought it was wrong to celebrate Thanksgiving because of the Indian genocide, and the general awfulness of the USA.
Zinn has been thoroughly debunked by historians, but it has not affected his book sales in the slightest. What's needed is massive ridicule, so that any school board or teacher would be too embarrassed to assign the book. Anybody up to joining me in a campaign?
I have to put in a good word for geography, cultural and physical. If you wonder why some places in the world are constantly at war or in chaos, try a semester of each. And no, we don't seem to understand a damn thing about either. It would even help understanding the politics of this nation...we are a multicultural country now.
One could include "The Princes Of Ireland". "The Rebels Of Ireland", and Russka" all by Edward Rutherford, to help lay a foundation for thought. My #1 son read the first 2 mentioned books when he was in Gr 6. The list is long. The FIRST priority is to create a love of reading and comprehension of what has been read, in our children. (and throw away those damned video games !!)
I avoided the maths and sciences in college. But I did take chem & physics in high school. I also never got around to taking any higher math beyond trig. Sorry! Maybe you consider me uneducated.
However, I had to take some interesting courses as my 'core curriculum' for my freshman year of college. I ended up taking psychology and meteorology for my sciences (both very interesting) and a geography course. But I never set foot in a math class. Whew! I was so very very happy to be done with math.
Don't think that hurt me at all. My job does not entail any complicated math. Nor does my life.
I'd add two kinds of writing classes, and its better to illustrate them by textbook titles.
1. strunk & white's elements of style, because anyone who has mastered these lessons is ahead of 90% of the population.
2. and after S&W, something like Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric; that kind of class will take the student to the top 2%.
I'd also suggest a class in debate or the debate team. one has to recognizes flaws in argument, to refute them and to use them against the unwary.
I had a classical liberal education at USC, almost exactly as suggested in the article. it got me into professional school (anything would have done that) and sparked a lifelong curiosity that's made me a minor expert in a couple of historical periods not because I need a grade or a paycheck, but because I want to be.
Under "Math and Science," I would add a separate course on the scientific method. The strengths and limitations of realistic thinking (as opposed to magical thinking) cannot be overemphasized these days.
Under "General," I would skip the Bible-based Christian theology and substitute a good general course on religion. I say this for two reasons.
First, this is to acknowledge the simple fact that I, as a Jew, do exist; that in spite of so many centuries of Christian (and later Islamic and socialist) anti-Semitism I, as a Jew, have earned my place in the sun; and that this is my country as much as any Christian's. Any other perspective is a blow to the democratic values that I sought when I crawled about in the minefields of the Iron Curtain in 1965.
And second, and equally as important today, a good general course on religion will expose the sham of Islam as a religion of peace and a mortal danger to all that we hold dear.
What else? One major language - German, French, Russian, Chinese, Japanese. At least three years of intensive - and I mean intensive - training. And, yes, geography, as mentioned elsewhere in these comments.