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REPORT DECRIES DECLINE IN LIBERAL ARTS EDUCATION.



Byline: William H. Honan Honan: see Henan, China.  The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 Times

A study of undergraduate education undergraduate education Medtalk In the US, a 4+ yr college or university education leading to a baccalaureate degree, the minimum education level required for medical school admission; undergraduate medical education refers to the 4 yrs of medical school. Cf CME.  since 1914 has found that the country's 50 best-known colleges and universities are no longer providing "broad and rigorous exposure to major areas of knowledge," once considered essential to a liberal arts liberal arts, term originally used to designate the arts or studies suited to freemen. It was applied in the Middle Ages to seven branches of learning, the trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, and the quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music.  education.

The report, by the National Association of Scholars, concludes that the core curriculum "has largely vanished" over the past 30 years, and that there has been "a purging from the curriculum of many of the required basic survey courses used to familiarize students with the historical, cultural, political and scientific foundations of their society."

The survey was conducted by reviewing the college catalogs of the 50 institutions over 80 years, focusing on 1914, 1939 and 1964 as pivotal years for the country and 1993, the last for which the group could examine data.

While some educators dismiss the report as old hat, the authors argue that their critics have closed their minds to what they choose not to hear. Stephen H. Balch, president and executive director of the association, which is issuing the report today, said the demise of the required course "has placed America in danger of losing the common frame of reference that for many generations has sustained our liberal, democratic society."

Among the findings were these:

Fewer core courses are required. The percentage of credits from mandatory courses needed to graduate in 1993 was about one-third of what it was in 1964, and a fifth of that in 1914.

Students have more choices among free electives, rather than building knowledge through specializing after completing broader prerequisites. In 1914, colleges and universities offered an average of only 23 courses without prerequisites. The number increased to 127 in 1964 and 582 in 1993.

Assessment of graduating seniors has declined. In 1939 and 1964, more than half of the institutions required a thesis or comprehensive examination for a bachelor's degree. By 1993, only 12 percent did so.

Math and science requirements are shrinking. In 1914, 82 percent of the institutions required a math course and 86 percent required science. By 1993 only 12 percent required math (though an additional 32 percent allowed a less demanding course for non-majors), and only 34 percent required a natural science.

Foreign-language requirements are eroding. Until 1964, a foreign language was required by 90 percent of the institutions. By 1993, the figure was down to 64 percent.

Philosophy requirements have been virtually abandoned. In 1914, philosophy courses were required by 76 percent of the institutions. In 1993, only 4 percent required such courses.

Lynne Cheney, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

U.S. independent agency. Founded in 1965, it supports research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.
 under Presidents Reagan and Bush, praised the report, remarking: "It made me think of how easily the movies made by people like Oliver Stone Noun 1. Oliver Stone - United States filmmaker (born in 1946)
Stone
 are accepted as factual. That's what happens when students can avoid taking a good, rigorous course on American history. It leaves them open to the Big Lie."

Founded in 1987, the association is an organization of faculty and graduate students based in Princeton that supports a traditional curriculum for higher education higher education

Study beyond the level of secondary education. Institutions of higher education include not only colleges and universities but also professional schools in such fields as law, theology, medicine, business, music, and art.
. Members include such prominent scholars as Jacques Barzun Jacques Martin Barzun (b. November 30, 1907) is a leading American historian of ideas and culture. His reputation is that of a political and social conservative and an eloquent defender of tradition in the practice of higher education and scholarship. , Gertrude Himmelfarb Gertrude Himmelfarb (born August 8 1922) is an American historian known for her studies of the intellectual history of the Victorian era, particularly of Social Darwinism; and as a conservative cultural critic. She is also known as an outspoken commentator of university education. , Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Irving Kristol Irving Kristol (born January 22, 1920, New York City) is considered the founder of American neoconservatism.[1] He is married to conservative author and emeritus professor Gertrude Himmelfarb and is the father of William Kristol. , Seymour Martin Lipset Seymour Martin Lipset (March 18, 1922 - December 31, 2006) was a political sociologist from the U.S.. Seymour Lipset was a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University.  and James O. Wilson.

But among other academics, the report was attacked as more of the same. Robert Zemsky, director of the Institute for Research on Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania (body, education) University of Pennsylvania - The home of ENIAC and Machiavelli.

http://upenn.edu/.

Address: Philadelphia, PA, USA.
, said: "This report is a distraction. I don't want bingo education where you pick one course from column A and another from column B and then shout: 'Bingo! I'm educated!' We've gotten way beyond that. We're focused on standards. We're focused on the question of whether the student develops a real capacity to learn and to apply his knowledge to the world."

And Jerry Gaff, vice president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities This article or section is written like an .
Please help [ rewrite this article] from a neutral point of view.
Mark blatant advertising for , using .
, disdained the report as "20 years out of date," because many of the same observations were made by the Harvard Core Curriculum Task Force of 1977.

"But what's happening today," Gaff said, "is that most schools are actually strengthening the core curriculum. The institutions they studied - the wealthiest ones - are much less likely to be involved in educational reform.

Russ Edgerton, president of the American Association for Higher Education, said that concern about the decline of the core curriculum is "half correct."

"We can't ignore the decline of requirements," Edgerton said, "but the real agenda of higher education today is the concern with problem solving problem solving

Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error.
, critical thinking, communicating and learning how to value."

The report's emphasis on the decline of prerequisites was challenged by several educators. Lee S. Shulman, a professor of education and psychology at Stanford University, said he thought it expressed "a deeply flawed concept of learning."

"There is no absolute, sequential highway to knowledge," Shulman said. "It is not God-given that you must take 14th-century French literature before you do 18th-century French literature. Instead, what we understand today is that there are clusters of courses that speak to each other."

As for the report's description of a decline in intellectual challenge to undergraduates, Frederick Rudolph, a professor emeritus of history at Williams College and a specialist in the history of American higher education, said he had deplored the decline of the core curriculum in his book "The American College and University: A History," published in 1968.

Rudolph added, "Almost anything lamented in higher education has been lamented for a long time."
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 24, 1996
Words:899
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