I write in response to the editorial by Matt Hunt published in the November 8th edition of the Griffon News regarding general education.
Mr. Hunt’s comments reflect disdain for general studies requirements, and they also bring to light a now common perception about the purpose of higher education, specifically, that the only reason for earning a college degree is to get a job.
Although it’s true that a college degree leads to more stable employment and higher earning potential, an undergraduate degree provides much more that is not quantifiable. The American higher education model developed around the premise of learning for learning’s sake. Courses in the liberal arts and sciences help students understand the complex world in which they live.
Engaging in inquiry about history, science, religion and the fine arts, for example, heightens our understanding of how society functions and teaches us to reflect on our past, in order to address the challenges of our present. Reading great literature and studying other societies and cultures builds awareness and acceptance of difference.
All of these abilities not only groom students for working in a professional environment, they prepare them for living in an ever-changing world. From an employer’s point of view, the skills developed through general education are crucial: how do you teach an employee to problem solve, address sticky ethical issues or communicate with people from different backgrounds? How do you train an employee to be flexible, to interpret data, and to speak and write effectively?
General education provides the tools that we all need to lead productive and fulfilling lives.