ERIC Number: ED216717
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Apr-15
General Education: Stopping the Pendulum--But Can We Get Off?
Wharton, Clifton R., Jr.
During the past few years, a great deal of thought and writing has focused on general education. While there is overall agreement that general education is central to higher learning and in need of rejuvenation and greater institutional commitment, there have been debates as to whether there is a rough equivalence between general education and basic skills and whether the content of general education constitutes a timeless part of higher education. This widespread concern with general education appears in contrast to two other trends in higher education, i.e., the surge in demand for career programs and the rise of educational consumerism. Both of these latter trends have flourished under the banner of "relevance." However, "relevance," like general education, is a concept that changes drastically with the times. In order to achieve a wider consensus on a stabilized role for general education, two questions should be considered. First, what overall philosophy should two-year institutions adopt toward general education, and second, what should the components of general education be in the future? To permit students to participate in a knowledge-centered society, general education should stress symbolic competencies, which encompass the use of written, oral, and mathematical signs; epistemological competence, which orients students to the structures of knowledge in their society; and cultural competence, which enriches the relationship of the individual to his/her milieu. (WL)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Keynote address at the Annual Conference of the Community College General Education Association (Poughkeepsie, NY, April 15, 1982).