ERIC Number: ED307014
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Jan-27
What Can Be Done about General Education?
Cohen, Arthur M.
The idea of general education has ebbed and flowed for generations. Recent calls for general education, appearing both in the professional and popular literature, demand an integrative curriculum that brings people toward common understandings. The content of what is taught matters less than that a continual effort be made to enhance social cohesion and move students toward a realization that participation in the polity is important. In Japan, school environments direct students toward such a sense of social responsibility; in the United States, and especially in community colleges, the curriculum must carry the general education message. Since the community college curriculum centers on the liberal arts and occupational studies, general education must be diffused throughout these areas. The colleges have effectually reconceptualized the liberal arts in the direction of general education, and have had some success in suffusing general education concepts into occupational studies. However, constant attention must be paid to general education because the courses keep drifting away from the disciplines from which they arose. General education is difficult to teach because, by definition, it is broad and integrative; and it is futile to insist on it as a graduation requirement because so few students graduate. Overcoming these dilemmas, answering the question of what knowledge everyone should possess, and assessing the outcomes of general education demands leadership from within the institution rather than directives from the state level. Integrated, self-contained, interdisciplinary general education courses should be required for everyone coming to the institution, and their outcomes assessed globally, in order to bring a greater understanding of the broader society and of the student's place within it. (JMC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at a conference of the Liberal Arts Network for Development (East Lansing, MI, January 26-27, 1989).