What is General Education For?
Is college about broad intellectual cultivation, research and self-discovery or is it about learning job skills? This is the subject of a current debate in Texas, which reflects a nationwide debate over the purpose and future of higher education. As in many such debates, high-level decision makers in Texas want to streamline college degrees and to focus them on immediate marketability. The goal is understandable, especially in a context of rising tuition. But do we need to cast doubt on the value of general education and the humanities in the process?
Missing in the debate is the fact that the modern economy depends on creativity and innovation, which is often generated by tapping into a broad range of knowledge, skills and competencies unavailable in single disciplines. The same goes for individual careers: testimony by leaders in fields ranging from medicine, engineering to technology all suggest that long-term career success depends on a balance or diversity of approaches, including the skills and modes of inquiry taught in the humanities. In other words, market evidence itself demonstrates that general education and the humanities have a crucial role to play in training students for successful careers.
Hunter Rawlings of the AAU puts it like this: “You just don’t know what your education is going to result in…”. “Many of the kids graduating from
college these days are going to hold a number of different jobs in their
lives, and many of those jobs have not yet been invented. For a world
like that, what’s the best education? Seems to me it’s a very general
education that enables you to think critically.”
more here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/opinion/sunday/bruni-questioning-the-missionof-college.html?hp
WSJ Reports: The College Major Is Not As Important As Students Believe
More important for many jobs, according to a recent AACU survey of employers, are skills such as analytical thinking, persuasive
communication and problem-solving.
*thanks to Barbie De Soto for link