Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Required vs Available

We've had a physical activity requirement since time immemorial.  Students usually complete it by taking one single credit course in some physical activity, from power walking to weight lifting to whatever.

Except, in recent years, we haven't offered enough places in these courses for students to be able to take and complete the requirement.  In a school of about 10,000 students, we have a backlog of 3000 one credit courses, and the backlog grows all the time.

I'm all for students being active and such, but the idea that they had to take a formal class in walking or whatever just seems so 1950s to me.  I'm sure it worked well for all the assistant coaches of this and that back when, but as assistant coaches weren't rehired, the backlog grew, and the assistant coaches who are absolutely vital, you know the ones who coach football, they don't have time for all the students who are required to take the course.

We're trying to get rid of the requirement, and many folks are trying to make the getting rid of part count for students already on campus.  And a few folks are arguing against that since some students have actually done the requirement, and won't they feel bad.  Seriously, we have a backlog that's more than a year's worth, which means it's a requirement that's causing some students not to be able to graduate when they otherwise would, and we're worried that some students who've managed to take the class will be cranky.  (They might, but I think we should just say something along the lines of "we're sorry, we messed up, and we're trying to make things less crappy for people as we can.")


We've reformed our general education.  We spent years, literally years discussing what we want students to do here, and one of the things we mostly really wanted was for all students to have an experience of creating some sort of art.

That's unaffordable, though.  We aren't actually willing to use our minimalist budget for arts.  And the budget is even smaller and more minimalist than it was when we started brainstorming and talking about what we wanted.  So now pretty much every single major program on campus is writing up a senior level course (or several) to count as a creative endeavor. 

I do believe that all sorts of work is creative, that figuring out how to design an experiment that tests what you want to test, that's creative.  Figuring out how to market products is also creative.  And so on.  But when we brainstormed, we really wanted this to be a creative endeavor in the arts.

So, yeah, not so much the arts anymore.

I'm going to hear some opera tonight.  I'm happy about that!  I may not be making music, but I'm sure glad some of our students are!

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