Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When GEC's attack.

If you've been to college you've had to suffer through a GEC. a class almost completely contrary to your major. Getting a degree in business? You better have a class in art appreciation (how exactly do you teach someone to "appricite" art?). Getting a degree in Biology? You'd best get a class in geology. Getting a degree in History (like me) you need a class in Dance. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? 

Yes there are a ton of classes you must face. Now I understand the whole "broadening of horizons" but if this is not in some way advancing a goal then it looses importance, and relevance. Am I going to dance? I never had ability or desire to dance, the only time I have graceful movements is when I was a soldier, and those movements were not about bringing people together. So why do I need a dance class?  The fact that it's not even a class you actually do anything seems all the more insulting.

Now I understand that there will always be a need to "broaden" horizons of young men and women, but given that each professor is clearing close to 100K a year, and working at most a few hours a week. . . is this really nessisary?  Further, while I could see a strong need for such a class with anyone wanting to get a degree in dance, or teaching dance or even theater, I can not see any justification for someone that wants to learn about any other subject.

Even when it comes to exploring cross cultural imagry, and such, there comes a point that you have to ask, very seriously what the utility of the knowlege is.  When you have people who take a class not because they want to, or because it might be nessisary to build on further knowlege (say Organic Chemistry to Microbiology), but because someone said arbitrarily "this is the least painful of your options" you tend to see people who neither listen in class, nor give a shit what is being said/taught.

One can make a (strong) argument that buisness and econ have utility.  One can even argue that Geographical classes have utility.  I can agree that classes on world religion as well are important, if only familiarization.  But I'd argue against sociology, and psychology.  Why?  Because they're "soft" sciences, their theories being little more than buzz words, and feel-good theories, if you actually take time to debate them a lot of those theories fall apart.  At some point, does anyone bother to stop and ask these tenured professors "hey are you teaching anything useful?"  If you can not honestly say yes (in one paragraph or less) then obviously your tenure is not something the University should be paying for.

What makes this whole situation intollerable is that many of the professors that do teach these classes that do not advance a degree path, or are ancillary "broaden your horizons" classes are the very teachers who spend all their time trashing America.  I had a history professor who was all about the progressive movement, however when I made a clear an cogent argument to the contrary he did not grade me based on what he taught, but rather the strength of my argument.  Would you believe that I got an A- in a class where I challenged the proffessors every assertation?  Why?  Because history is one of those subjects where debate is not only important but vital.

Do you think I would get that from a Humanities class?  Believe me I tried.  It did not end well.  When she got to Vietnam, and the Hippies, I firmly stated that the ignorace of the Hippies was almost worse than them spitting on soldiers as they came home. 

"Spitting on soldiers?  That's an Urban ledgend" says she
"BULLS**T" Says I "I not only know, personally know, soldiers that were spit on, I have documentation of same"

The class got quite a bit uncomfortable from there.  There was one of those rail thin artsy chicks with the giant bonnet woven by Jamacains (or some such) and all sorts of "i'm unique" patches on her backpack.  She jumped in after about 30 seconds when I ascerted that not only was Tet '68 a major US victory, but that the Cambodian Incursion, should have happened 5 years earlier, and shouldn't have stopped where it did.  You can imagine how insenced she was.  This child of a hippie, new age yuppie, launched into a tirade about how wrong the US was to drop bombs on "innocent" people in Asia, to which I responded the VC and NVA were far from innocent.  You can imagine this debate getting a little heated on both sides (and one guy being like "dude chill out man it happened like a long time ago")

I wrapped up my case, after wasting most of the class, by stating that while the Vietnam War was poorly thought out by the Johnson administration, and had to be fought during a draw down for Nixon, the South Vietnamese were worth protecting.  That it was wrong for US Citizens to give aide to the enemy, and that the Communists were the worst sort of evil since Hitler.  That as an OIF Veteran I felt that the cultural importance of the Hippies was vastly overstated and the damage they had done to our society vastly understated. 

I won't repeat what was said after that.  But needless to say I left the class, and even though it was too late to drop the class, never went again.  I got (and deserved) an F.  I can live with that F.  But I still need to take a psudo-artsy class.  Hense the Dance 101: Intro to Dance. 

So why this rant?  Because I want to advance on my degree path.  I'm sick and tired of plodding along in thes fucked up bullshit classes.  As such I also question when people are having to choose between a gallon of milk and a gallon of gas, why the flying **** are we paying a kings ransom to teachers who do little or no work?  If we get rid of a lot of these pointless classes (and teachers) how much might the university save?  How much would the Student save?  You see now why I'm pissed?

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