I had the opportunity to assist last week to the event: “The Economic and Civic case for General Education” by Dr. Debra Humphreys, I thought it would be beneficial to post about some of the information she provided.
One of the things she emphasized was on how General Education (GE) is an effort that not only should involve administrators. She thinks communication is a key factor in this change. In every University around the country, despite they are into the GE reform or not there are a lot of faculty members creating effective and engaging learning environments, however, those messages are not being amplified enough. One of the principles behind GE is not only to provide students with different perspectives about things, but to provide them with quality education where they have the motivation to learn things that interest them. As she affirmed: “Education is a social enterprise where educators and students need to work together to make it good.”
Another interesting thing that she mentioned was the need for students to understand the big picture. Students need to answer the question “Why am I in college?”, and “how college will change my life?” In most cases students have misperceptions because they don’t quite understand the essence of attending to college. For example, students think that having a major is the same as having a career, that college means 4 years of learning everything they need to learn in their field and they are ready to the real world and won’t need to learn anymore, that college is the magic road to find a good job and make money. It is important that students understand, even before they arrive to college, that it is about the experience of learning how to learn. It is about shaping and developing different skills that will help them adapt to a professional environment, is where they learn how to find useful information and to develop their own criteria to judge what useful information is. College then will not be a magic place where they will obtain all the answers, but where they will learn how to continuously look for them.
Finally, she argues that liberal education is important to every student because (I) is very likely that students will change jobs multiple times, so they need the experience of dealing with different people under different contexts, and (II) it introduce multiple perspectives that help students develop their own critical thinking, creativity, and acceptance to interdisciplinary collaboration.