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Just Another Rant on Policy

January 19, 2012

So I hope you all enjoyed your days without the blog as we protested SOPA and PIPA. What? You thought that we were just being lazy? That’s silly. Of course we did it with a purpose. Haha. Of course.

So what should I talk about on this first day back? Should I tackle SOPA and PIPA? No, those are fairly well covered. Everybody already knows what’s screwy with those bills, and if you don’t you should google it right now and become acquainted with the consequences of the passing of the bills.

Let’s do something even more perplexing. Let’s talk about core curriculum classes at universities.

Here I was, floating through my days, integrating those functions that needed to be integrated, calculating the specific heat when it needed to be known, and just generally being the boring, numbers person that I naturally am. Then, without any forewarning, I found myself in an economics class. Economics is a place where they care as much or more about the meaning of a word than the meaning of a number. This could turn out badly.

It didn’t, of course, or at least I very strongly hope and believe that it will. I like to think that I’m a multi-talented guy who can function in a large number of spheres–a diverse range of disciplines–but this isn’t true for all of us. I can attest to the fact that there are people in my science, math and engineering classes who are useless without a calculator in their hands. Should they be penalized for this shortcoming?

What is college but a place to prepare for a paid role in the world. Sure, at some point college meant more than that. It was a sign of distinction, a way to guarantee a level of awareness of the times and society in which one lived, but we don’t need that any more. We have the internet, right?

No, the role of college is to make sure that somebody is prepared for a future job they might possess. Why should engineers be required to take a course in economics? No, that’s a bad example. A course in economics could be marginally useful to an engineer. But why should an engineer be required to take a course titled “Music Appreciation”?

Will having an appreciation for music make me more valuable to the company for which I will work? Will I be unable to cope with my life if I can’t identify Beethoven’s 5th by hearing only a few lines?

No. Of course not.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim's Dad permalink
    January 20, 2012 11:09 am

    The fact that colleges and even universities have been reduced to places whose only purpose is seen to be to prepare one for a better paying job than one could get without attending one (which used to be the role of a trade school as opposed to a college or university) is a sad commentary on the smallness of soul and short-sightedness of vision that has inflicted our culture. How could it not be so when we as a people have embraced a self-centered, relativistic, hedonistic, materialistic and ultimately empty and self-destructive philosophy and way of life? The purpose of education in a classical sense (and in a wiser time than the one in which we live) was to enlarge the mind and soul of the student, to develop in them discernment, to instill in them the values of our shared culture and an appreciation for things outside of their normal sphere of experience, to instill in them a desire for continuing personal, intellectual and spiritual growth and the desire to serve others as good stewards of the life they have been given. We have truly lost more than most people realize by the destruction of education in our country at all levels.

    • January 20, 2012 11:22 am

      Mr. Newton, I completely agree, and if I felt that the classes I’m required to take were doing that in any way, you wouldn’t be hearing these protests. The economics class is actually teaching me things about how the world works, but courses such as the required music appreciation courses teach nothing but rote memorization skills.

  2. January 24, 2012 10:29 am

    two things:

    1) thank you, Mr. Tim’s Dad. i totally agree. you are a wise man, good sir!

    2) as a psyc major (and almost psyc graduate) i can tell you that we can prove psychologically that a multi-faceted degree creates smarter people. exposing people to different disciplines forces different areas of their brain to light up, forming a more complex and intelligent individual. obviously you dont use the same areas of your brain to appreciate music as you do to calculate math problems. this is why we should cultivate all of them.

    imagine what you would look like if you only worked out one part of your body because you wanted to (“i really want to look buff, so i’m only going to work out the right side of my body because im right handed and i never use the left for anything”). you would look very strange indeed, with a bicep on your right side as big around as your head and your left side looking like a broom handle. it’s important we practice all disciplines to excercise our mind, otherwise, what you don’t use, you lose. psyc has proven it.

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