ERIC Number: ED305966
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Apr-17
General Education: The Community College's Unfulfilled Agenda.
Vaughan, George B.
Community colleges have always embraced general education in principle, but have largely failed to deliver a meaningful program of general studies. Definitions of general education stress the importance of teaching the common knowledge, cultural and environmental understanding, skills, values, and attitudes needed by each individual to be an effective family and community member, worker, citizen, and consumer. If these goals continue to be ignored, the majority of the people of this country will find themselves technologically and civically illiterate, while a small cadre of specialists will control knowledge and thus the decision-making processes. Why then, given the importance of general education and the risks inherent in ignoring it, have most community colleges fared so poorly in providing it? First, most technical curricula require so many credit hours that there is little time to devote to general education. Second, most community colleges have accepted a distribution model of general education that fails to build bridges between the disciplines. Third, most administrators are reluctant to devote the necessary time to restructuring the curriculum. Fourth, the colleges' heavy reliance upon part-time faculty has hurt attempts to bring coherence to the curriculum. And finally, too often general education is confused with the liberal arts, and especially the humanities. Steps that can be taken to develop a meaningful program of general education include the following: (1) campus leaders must believe that general education is critical to the well-being of the campus, community, nation, and world; (2) every campus should devise its own definition of general education and develop and publish a plan for putting that definition into operation; (3) leaders should involve all segments of the college, including the governing board, in curriculum development; (4) colleges should obtain external funding; and (5) colleges ought to work with four-year institutions to ensure that the general education program articulates with their undergraduate requirements. (ALB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper prepared for a conference on "General Studies: Continuing Issues and Emerging Prospects" (Nelsonville, OH, April 17, 1989).