Tuesday, February 16, 2016

More from me at philpercs

On the strange idea that jobs you don't get are usually ones you are better off without and the surprisingly common idea that taking a (single) course will give people a skill or virtue they currently lack, e.g. critical thinking, writing, ethics.  


  1. among other things we have talked about this seems to raise some serious questions/doubts about the idea of making students take a menu of intro classes under the mantras of a liberal arts education, no?

    1. Yes. The main point of intro courses, unless they really are the first step on a longer journey, is to give students a taste of something to see whether they want to do more. And that doesn't seem like a hugely valuable thing. I suspect it would make more sense to have students take courses in the following categories: gen ed (which would be, maybe, several courses each in literature, history, and philosophy), their major, courses in subjects relevant to their major, free electives (which would be few in number and, as far as possible, used to build on other courses already taken to add a minor or perhaps a second major). I don't see much point in requiring students to get a taste of something if that's all it's going to be, especially if they already had a taste of it in high school.

      One problem with my view is how students would choose their majors, but perhaps they should choose before they start (this is the British system and the system used at the school where I teach now). You could still switch to a related subject if necessary, but switching from, say, physics to English might be hard. I'm not sure that's so bad though.

    2. yeah, i can see freshman year getting a bit of variety to see what suits/interests but the idea of a "well" rounded education seems more dubious a goal, closer to the mistaken idea of teaching young adults values thru lectures, better left behind i think.

    3. Agreed. And a physics major with a minor in history is far more well rounded than a physics major who has taken a bunch of random courses based on what fits his/her schedule or has a reputation for being easy.

  2. maybe you can blog on: