The state of general educ LO6574

Dr Ilfryn Price (
Wed, 10 Apr 1996 16:07:28 -0400

Replying to LO6536 -- was: Degrees with Expiry Dates

Joanne Gainen replying to me responding to Marion Brady -

>I am troubled by these references to general education as "appalling,"
>the statement that "not a single discipline" addresses or teaches us to
>criticize our fundamental assumptions about reality, and the idea that
>general education's function is to perpetuate some definable model of
>itself. Perhaps I have misunderstood; forgive and correct me if so.

Joanne. I was not suggesting that it is education's function [from the
point of view of people]. I was suggesting that is education's effect [and
function from the point of view of the model]. It may be a different
perspective but I invite considering the model as an entity bent on its
own survival by infecting the minds of teachers and students.

SNIP> This is the stated purpose of "general education" in many higher
learning institutions.

I will be the first to admit that these purposes are not often realized.
In many institutions, research productivity receives more respect and
greater financial rewards than innovative or reflective teaching and
curriculum development. In other institutions, dreadful teaching
conditions make it tough for instructors to demand the quality and
quantity of thinking, talking, and writing necessary to develop reflective
abilities and dispositions.>

I agree - also many 'educators' *so called?* prosper by virtue of
challenging: to the point where no one prospers by acknowledging the
contributions of another and building a stucture. Rampant intellectual
ping pong [batting words across journals, conferences or email lists]
ensues as different strains of saying the same thing compete for space in
the minds of others. There is a WORLD OF difference between instructors
who really desire to teach and those trapped in a game of intellectual
complexity [referred to graphically by a colleague of mine as the head up
the b.. archetype.

>Instructors who make such demands are therefore often in a minority and
must contend with their students' personal and cultural resistance to
change and ambiguity

Yes but where do the students get it from.

>Nonetheless, general education can stimulate critical reflection and
SNIP. Someone on a posting I cannot now retrieve (regretfully!) suggested
we need to do less blaming and more supporting of education. I could not
agree more. The health and wealth of our nation depends on it.

Apart from a minor desire to substitute 'world' for 'nation' I agree
completely. The problem IMO is that many educators are infected by mental
models trying to replicate themselves - including a model of making
everything complex in the name of 'intelligent criticism'

If Price
The Harrow Partnership
Pewley Fort Guildford UK


Dr Ilfryn Price <>

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