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Why should the government not cut general education courses from college programs? ...[Show More]

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Not long ago, I was drawn to a heated argument on whether general education requirements should be eradicated. At first, I thought that general education courses is a complete waste of time and resources for both teachers and students. Later, I came to understand that it helps in the development of essential skills in the modern world and the learners can solve various problematic circumstances. Despite the opposing arguments of other people, I think that the courses have more benefits to all the learners. A good example of its benefits is that it prepares students to become experts, and as such, it must continue to be taught in college. The government should therefore support General Education Programs by funding it as it equips learners with knowledge and skills to handle various situations in life. Proponents of GenEd argue that it promotes the development of skills that are essential in contemporary society. They, therefore, claim that the program is developed to equip learners with an array of skills, including literacy, ethical, motivational, critical thinking, inquiry creative, and other lifelong skills. Inquiry skills are those that enable one to think abstractedly, extensively, and critically. The ability to think critically and extensively is handy in situations that need problem-solving, either in real life or in hypothetical situations. Literacy skills, on the other hand, are intended to enable the student to listen, read, write, and speak (Liard et al., 2009). Ethical or value skills are designed to make an individual's behaviour desirable through exposure to social issues, human studies, and moral philosophy. Having understood all these, the student can develop a sense of self-motivation and skills and, therefore, able to deal with everyday difficulties. In the end, these students will have learned a lot through the various information and ideas that they come across in the GenEd program. In a study done by Liard et al (2009) to find out whether general education courses contribute to essential learning outcomes, the authors analysed the data of a 2005 survey which asked instructor of GECs and non-GECs across many US colleges and universities to answer questions about how they structured their courses and what learning outcomes they were trying to promote(Liard et al., 2009). One of the most important findings by Nelson Laird et al. (2009) was that the instructors of GECs focused on promoting the development of intellectual skills and understanding of responsibility compared to instructors of non-GECs; instructors of non-GECs focused more on practical skills. While this is true, opponents of GenEd argue that even though GenEd has its benefits, nobody should be forced to do it. They argue that if given a choice, a student would never take a course that is far beyond their comfort. However, these requirements become a burden to students because they pile work to students. Time used to focus on these GenEd courses shifts attention away from concentrating on what they are interested in. These people also argue that professors are affected, as they have to teach students that would rather not be in those classes. As such, these students make their classes boring and monotonous. Furthermore, they contend that the concept of "general education" must have been addressed in high school as students got exposed to more subjects. However, some argue that whereas students emphasize so much on what they should be majoring on over others, they often miss the whole point. Students are likely to overlook the importance of acquiring skills like problem solving and communication, which are provided through the GenEd courses. In a survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (2013), when asked about the ideal characteristics of a candidate, majority of employers, of about 93% said they were looking for a candidate that has the ability to think "critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major" (Humphrey's 2014) . Further, every three in four managers commended colleges and universities for putting more emphasis on critical thinking skills, communication skills, and the ability to apply knowledge they possess to solve to the real-world issues (Humphreys. 2014). Therefore, proponents of GenEd argue that in the end, these courses are aimed at preparing students for the real world experiences. With the unpredictability of the future, student's interests and career may change, and new job opportunities may arise. This means that with a solid foundation on these various skills, students then will always be prepared for the unknown. Despite these opposing viewpoints, one can attest that they all agree on one thing; wanting what is best for the students. In my opinion, therefore, whether GenEd is considered necessary or unnecessary, the issue of concern is to be able to mold well-rounded graduates: who can stand out in the otherwise competitive world. If this means allowing the GenEd to continue, then let it be! References Laird, T. F. N., Niskode-Dossett, A. S., & Kuh, G. D. (2009). What general education courses contribute to essential learning outcomes. The journal of public education, 58(2), 65-84. Humphreys, D., & Kelly, P. (2014). How liberal arts and sciences majors fare in employment: A report on earnings and long-term career paths. Washington, DC.

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