Making the grade and staying the course

Making the grade and staying the course
Wes Wallace

Cape Girardeau, MO - A report out earlier this week gives a failing mark to colleges and their graduates for not knowing enough about history, geography and economics.  The study included questioning graduates from all sorts of schools, including Ivy League institutions.
"They were looking at facts and content, and not really at how it all works together in a concept or idea," says Dr. David Starrett, Dean of the School of  University Studies at Southeast Missouri State University.
Dr. Starrett says there's actually a council at Southeast that looks at national trends and requirements and takes into consideration the University's standards to determine general education requirements.
"You want to have a good balance, a good core foundation."  Starrett adds, "You have to leave room for major course work too."
At Southeast, students have to complete 120 hours to graduate, including 48 general education.  Those include a core curriculum of several different areas such as literature, art, history, math, critical thinking, and a few more.
"What we're tying to do is give the students the best education possible, who learn things within their major and also in areas outside the major,"  explains Starrett.
Matt Gibson is a secondary education major with an emphasis in history, while Ian Mackenzie is a political science major.  Both agree it's just not practical to add more courses in history or geography for students with other majors.
"By the time you get to college you should know the stuff, but it's not being taught there anymore.  The No Child Left Behind emphasizes math, science, and reading, so history and social studies aren't quite as important on the list,"  says Matt Gibson, "So if college students have to take one or two more courses, I think it would turn people off completely."
Ian Mackenzie agrees, "I like it that students get a pretty wide variety in their general education here, but I think there's too much coverage of things you should have learned in high school."
Dr. Starrett says the study probably would have yielded similar results had it focused on math, science, or any other subject.