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The Primary Goal of Universities

Oryus
Posts: 8,280
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5/11/2012 6:04:05 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
So I made a thread calling upon people to defend mandatory (non-writing specific) English classes in college.

But really, whether it is reasonable to have mandatory English classes, foreign language classes, etc. hinges on what the ultimate goal of Universities is.

I want to know what that goal is.

A.) Is the goal of Universities to provide a place where people can earn degrees that are recognized by society?
B.) Is the goal of Universities to make money?
C.) Is the goal of Universities to create "well-rounded" people? (And if so, wtf does that even mean and why is it the Universities responsibility to create these "well-rounded" people?)
D.) Is the goal of Universities some mix of these things and/or something else entirely?

In my opinion (and I'm totally open to other ideas because I've honestly barely thought about this) the goal of Universities is both A and B.

So, as an example, I'm going to school for Anthropology. Specifically archaeology. Even more specifically prehistory. This is my primary concern and this is the knowledge I will have which my degree will represent and society will acknowledge as legitimate.

Why should a person who primarily studies prehistory be required to take any kind of literature class? Why should I be required to take a foreign language class? Why is it necessary? I understand that it is beneficial, useful, good, etc. and all of those other lovely things. But why is it necessary for the degree? Why is it mandatory?

This is when I start to consider the goal of B a little more. Money.

To sum up-

I need a degree X which is symbolic of my knowledge of Y.
I only need to know A, B, and C to fully understand Y.
However, my college also requires that I know M and N to earn degree X.
M and N are not necessary to fully understand Y.
Conclusion: DOES NOT COMPUTE.

What is the true reasoning behind this? If it is anything but money, I will honestly be shocked.
: : :Tulle: The fool, I purposely don't engage with you because you don't have proper command of the English language.
: :
: : The Fool: It's my English writing. Either way It's okay have a larger vocabulary then you, and a better grasp of language, and you're a woman.
:
: I'm just going to leave this precious struggle nugget right here.
vbaculum
Posts: 1,274
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5/11/2012 6:27:00 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I always assumed that univerities followed traditionalist theories of education. So, in other words, the reason you "need" to know liturature is because liturature was one of the few disiplines that were taught in the earliest universities. Old habits are hard to break.

Anyway, I think these are questions you should expect your professors to answer. They should be able to justify their profession. Send them an email asking them to. I would personally like to see the response.
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THEBOMB
Posts: 2,872
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5/11/2012 9:18:34 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Winston Churchill wrote "universal education is the cornerstone of democracy"

Horace Mann held "education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments...It is the very foundation of good citizenship." He further states, "Under a republican government, it seems clear that the minimum of this education can never be less than such as is sufficient to qualify each citizen for the civil and social duties he will be called to discharge; such an education is indispensable for the civil functions of a witness or a juror; is necessary for the voter in municipal affairs; and finally, for the faithful and conscientious discharge of all those duties which devolve upon the inheritor of a portion of the sovereignty of this great republic."

Of course they were talking about the Public School system...but, when applied to universities, it can be said it is necessary to have well-rounded people in society in order to uphold society. A government will fail without rounded people. A well-rounded person is one which does not simply adhere to what he or she is learning, they take the opportunity to advance their education and advance their knowledge thorough learning subjects which are not necessary to complete their goal. Even making connections between the two.
Oryus
Posts: 8,280
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5/12/2012 11:58:30 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
So, so far I have, "it's tradition" and "it's tradition and it's also good."

For anybody:
What evidence do we have that society benefits from these "well-rounded" college grads to the point that universities ought to uphold mandatory classes which are irrelevant to degrees?

It seems like a cutesy hunch to me. As far as I can tell, the entities benefiting most from this are universities.
: : :Tulle: The fool, I purposely don't engage with you because you don't have proper command of the English language.
: :
: : The Fool: It's my English writing. Either way It's okay have a larger vocabulary then you, and a better grasp of language, and you're a woman.
:
: I'm just going to leave this precious struggle nugget right here.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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5/12/2012 12:03:31 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Well, its really not the goal of the university that matters. It's the goals of the student. The university is just an institution that fulfills that demand.

Some students want to learn for the sake of learning, others want a high salary after graduation, some want to party and f*ck.
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Oryus
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5/12/2012 12:13:47 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/12/2012 12:03:31 PM, darkkermit wrote:
Well, its really not the goal of the university that matters. It's the goals of the student. The university is just an institution that fulfills that demand.

Yes. I definitely think it should be about the goals of the student. And I definitely agree that the university should be considered an institution that fulfills that demand. But if my goal is to get a degree in X which represents my knowledge Y, yadda yadda yadda (you read the OP, I hope)- the goals of the university are then interfering with my goals. So, I want to know what the universities goals truly are if not my goals as a student.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they are interfering, really. We have at least a couple other important institutions which have a vested interest in not fulfilling their roles in society in the smoothest fashion :)

Some students want to learn for the sake of learning, others want a high salary after graduation, some want to party and f*ck.

lol

I think we can agree that most people go to universities with the goal of earning a degree- for whatever reason. My question is, then, why do universities interfere with this goal? (i.e. what are their goals?)

Hope that makes sense.
: : :Tulle: The fool, I purposely don't engage with you because you don't have proper command of the English language.
: :
: : The Fool: It's my English writing. Either way It's okay have a larger vocabulary then you, and a better grasp of language, and you're a woman.
:
: I'm just going to leave this precious struggle nugget right here.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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5/12/2012 12:21:04 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/12/2012 12:13:47 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 5/12/2012 12:03:31 PM, darkkermit wrote:
Well, its really not the goal of the university that matters. It's the goals of the student. The university is just an institution that fulfills that demand.

Yes. I definitely think it should be about the goals of the student. And I definitely agree that the university should be considered an institution that fulfills that demand. But if my goal is to get a degree in X which represents my knowledge Y, yadda yadda yadda (you read the OP, I hope)- the goals of the university are then interfering with my goals. So, I want to know what the universities goals truly are if not my goals as a student.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they are interfering, really. We have at least a couple other important institutions which have a vested interest in not fulfilling their roles in society in the smoothest fashion :)

Some students want to learn for the sake of learning, others want a high salary after graduation, some want to party and f*ck.

lol

I think we can agree that most people go to universities with the goal of earning a degree- for whatever reason. My question is, then, why do universities interfere with this goal? (i.e. what are their goals?)

Hope that makes sense.

I see what your saying. I don't know whether it is a union thing or if the universities feel some sort of "prestige" from having more rounded students. It could be about the university making money. It might have something to do with accreditation as well. It might be easier to get accredited if you have general electives.

I think universities as a whole want to feel a level of "presitge". Most of them are non-profit organization, so while they do care about money to an extent they don't solely care about money.

The whole gen electives things annoy me. I could have taken 6 engineering classes instead of 6 gen eds, and the former would have been much more useful for me.
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Oryus
Posts: 8,280
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5/12/2012 12:32:34 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/12/2012 12:21:04 PM, darkkermit wrote:
At 5/12/2012 12:13:47 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 5/12/2012 12:03:31 PM, darkkermit wrote:
Well, its really not the goal of the university that matters. It's the goals of the student. The university is just an institution that fulfills that demand.

Yes. I definitely think it should be about the goals of the student. And I definitely agree that the university should be considered an institution that fulfills that demand. But if my goal is to get a degree in X which represents my knowledge Y, yadda yadda yadda (you read the OP, I hope)- the goals of the university are then interfering with my goals. So, I want to know what the universities goals truly are if not my goals as a student.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they are interfering, really. We have at least a couple other important institutions which have a vested interest in not fulfilling their roles in society in the smoothest fashion :)

Some students want to learn for the sake of learning, others want a high salary after graduation, some want to party and f*ck.

lol

I think we can agree that most people go to universities with the goal of earning a degree- for whatever reason. My question is, then, why do universities interfere with this goal? (i.e. what are their goals?)

Hope that makes sense.

I see what your saying. I don't know whether it is a union thing or if the universities feel some sort of "prestige" from having more rounded students. It could be about the university making money. It might have something to do with accreditation as well. It might be easier to get accredited if you have general electives.

I think universities as a whole want to feel a level of "presitge". Most of them are non-profit organization, so while they do care about money to an extent they don't solely care about money.

The whole gen electives things annoy me. I could have taken 6 engineering classes instead of 6 gen eds, and the former would have been much more useful for me.

Agreed.

Wouldn't it be better (for students and society) if universities produced people who were stronger in their field rather than people who also know a few fun facts about Charles Dickens and the Civil War??

And now that you mention it, the universities could simply require that students take more classes in their field rather than gen eds. So money is not necessarily a motivating factor regardless. They could get their money AND students could be stronger in their fields. So there is probably something else at play.

So, now we have "prestige" (although it would definitely be a specific kind of prestige if this is the reasoning) and accreditation as possible reasons.
: : :Tulle: The fool, I purposely don't engage with you because you don't have proper command of the English language.
: :
: : The Fool: It's my English writing. Either way It's okay have a larger vocabulary then you, and a better grasp of language, and you're a woman.
:
: I'm just going to leave this precious struggle nugget right here.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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5/14/2012 8:53:51 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/12/2012 12:32:34 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 5/12/2012 12:21:04 PM, darkkermit wrote:
At 5/12/2012 12:13:47 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 5/12/2012 12:03:31 PM, darkkermit wrote:
Well, its really not the goal of the university that matters. It's the goals of the student. The university is just an institution that fulfills that demand.

Yes. I definitely think it should be about the goals of the student. And I definitely agree that the university should be considered an institution that fulfills that demand. But if my goal is to get a degree in X which represents my knowledge Y, yadda yadda yadda (you read the OP, I hope)- the goals of the university are then interfering with my goals. So, I want to know what the universities goals truly are if not my goals as a student.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they are interfering, really. We have at least a couple other important institutions which have a vested interest in not fulfilling their roles in society in the smoothest fashion :)

Some students want to learn for the sake of learning, others want a high salary after graduation, some want to party and f*ck.

lol

I think we can agree that most people go to universities with the goal of earning a degree- for whatever reason. My question is, then, why do universities interfere with this goal? (i.e. what are their goals?)

Hope that makes sense.

I see what your saying. I don't know whether it is a union thing or if the universities feel some sort of "prestige" from having more rounded students. It could be about the university making money. It might have something to do with accreditation as well. It might be easier to get accredited if you have general electives.

I think universities as a whole want to feel a level of "presitge". Most of them are non-profit organization, so while they do care about money to an extent they don't solely care about money.

The whole gen electives things annoy me. I could have taken 6 engineering classes instead of 6 gen eds, and the former would have been much more useful for me.

Agreed.

Wouldn't it be better (for students and society) if universities produced people who were stronger in their field rather than people who also know a few fun facts about Charles Dickens and the Civil War??

And now that you mention it, the universities could simply require that students take more classes in their field rather than gen eds. So money is not necessarily a motivating factor regardless. They could get their money AND students could be stronger in their fields. So there is probably something else at play.

So, now we have "prestige" (although it would definitely be a specific kind of prestige if this is the reasoning) and accreditation as possible reasons.

Don't forget teacher unions as another possibility. The professors have an incentive for students to be forced to take their course, since the school wouldn't be able to fire the professors due to "lack of demand". Plus a professor can get away with teaching one easy gen ed class with 100+ people rather then many advanced courses.
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