Bipolar over general education requirements

Me: I’d like to introduce you to my other personality. The two of us don’t see eye to eye on the subject of general education requirements, so I have consented to share my column with her.

Her: It’s about time. What are you whining about now?

Me: Why, oh why, do I have to take biology? I don’t like biology, but more importantly, I don’t have any reason to learn about biology. Unless I plan to communicate in the field of biology, which I don’t, I see no reason to spend a semester of time and tuition studying it.

Her: You might like biology. How will you know if you never try?

Me: It’s biology. I know.

Her: Remember the political science class you took last year? That was so interesting. You don’t regret that.

Me: True. But biology?

Her: The truth is that general education is an important component of a student’s education. It gives you a common academic experience that you share with your fellow students. It is designed to expand our historical, aesthetic, cultural, literary, scientific and philosophical perspectives. For us to be well-educated, successful, and valuable participants in our rapidly changing global community, we need more than professional or vocational training. In order to prepare for our exciting, challenging future, we need to do more than specialize in a major and train for a career; we must become more broadly educated, truly conversant with at least some of the many rapidly changing disciplines. We need to gain a sense of our past achievements, present developments, and future possibilities.

Me: Did you come up with that yourself?

Her: Well, no, it’s a conglomeration of shtick taken from a variety of college Web sites. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Me: My education should be my choice. There are general education requirements that seem redundant. I’m a healthy, active adult. I don’t need to spend a semester learning how to be fit for life. And how can an instructor at UVU lecture me about ethics and values? Whose values are we talking about anyway? The requirements are too specific and restrictive.

Her: So you would have chosen to take a course on American government?

Me: Absolutely not.

Her: Knowledge is valuable no matter what the subject. The general education program prepares you for more in-depth study in your major while also preparing you for a career, or, possibly, a family. Have you ever tried to help a 4th grader with their homework?

Me: No, I usually leave that to you.

Her: What else are you going to leave for someone else? Competition is fierce. How will you keep up?

Me: Look. I know what my major is. I know what I want to do for a living. I will never need biology.

Her: There is a big world out there, and as brilliant as you are, you don’t know squat. You don’t know where you will be in 10 years. You don’t know what direction your path my take. You can plan all you want, but in the end, what you know will determine your success. Knowledge is power. And “the beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.”

Me: I don’t understand biology.

Her: Exactly.

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