Some ideas regarding UW-Whitewater's required General Education CORE classes....
It seems like the CORE classes to a lot of people are bullshit (and I'm not even just talking about students) and it wouldn't surprise me if most students walk away from them with little, if anything, gained. In a way, I think this is because of the students' lack of imagination and motivation to learn. In another way, I think it is the professors' inability to effectively convey messages and motivate students to think critically about the material brought forward.
A general education professor recently expressed personally to me a concern that the messages of what he teaches in his class get lost for some students. I might be reading too much into that or I might not really know what that message is supposed to be, but regardless, it sounds like a problem, one in which students aren't getting what they are intended to get out of the CORE classes. I mean, those classes are required for a reason, right?? They do serve a purpose by being required, don't they?? I want to get at what that purpose is and remind people of it.
So I think it's time to motivate not only students, but professors as well, to start seeking out the deeper messages behind material taught in these courses, and see these messages as important for all students to receive and understand. I want professors to encourage both a deeper analysis of and a striving to understand course content by getting students to evaluate that content and think about it in the "big picture", and in addition, bring the material back down to the students as individuals and get them involved. This could be doing something as simple as having students relate the events that occurred in Iran in 1953 with events going on now, and discuss leading values held at that time, and how those compare to the values held today, not only of other people in the world, but of the students themselves as well. This type of reflection and building of the self by relating personally to what is being taught is vital to students' understanding of who they are and what they are going to stand for/against not only at UW-Whitewater, but in the world in general.
I want to target the CORE classes because I know every student at Whitewater will be taking them (for the most part). I think the CORE classes should be able to affect the student's world positively by delivering relate-able, applicable, and meaningful messages that can be carried through the rest of his/her college career, if not life in general. When CORE classes are seen as bullshit and pointless, and are just hurried through, graded, and filed away, they become meaningless, for both the professors and the students, and that's pretty sad.
If these CORE classes are going to be a requirement, the students might as well be get something out of them that will remain long-term. And what I want students to get out of them is not just a "well-rounded" education, which is what a lot of people would say students should be getting, but more deeply, an understanding of oneself through the various topics taught/discussed in the CORE classes. I think building students' understanding of themselves through the CORE general education courses will lead students to reflect on themselves and the actions/decisions they make throughout their lives, which will help them develop stable goals for their future and figure out who they want to be in this world.
So now the question is how can this all be done? Well some sort of plan has to be made and I want to get instructors of the general education courses involved. I think most instructors really do care about the students and want the best learning experience for them, so to get instructors to unite and work together on the critical thinking aspect of their courses shouldn't be too much too ask for, but I'm not sure what ways this should be done, and how to get the attention of the professors in a courteous, non-imposing way. The main goal I guess is to reinstate the purpose of these CORE classes by identifying the meanings and overall messages of what is taught. I know they exist!!
Maybe I'm getting in way over my head here or something, but I really believe that if we want to build some credibility for this crummy little university, we need to start at the core... sooo maybe the CORE classes would be a good start? hehe. But seriously, I think if we want to strengthen the overall UW-Whitewater academic community, we need to see the community as a group of individuals, and do something to help better the general education of those individuals, and give them all a reason to want to learn, so they can leave UW-Whitewater with more than just a piece of paper.
This is something I'm really concerned about... I don't want future generations of UWW students coming in feeling that any of their classes, let alone the CORE required classes, are bullshit. I felt this way, and it just made me angry... but now I want to do something about it. So yeah... that's my spiel. Am I crazy or what??