Student Speakout on General Education – Political Economy Days

REGE Student Speakout     

Listen to this fascinating discussion with current Palomar Students in the player above

Download (right click this link and select save as)

Political Economy Days
Student Speak-Out on General Education
Facilitators: Michael Mufson, Wendy Nelson,

Your education may be the most valuable investment of your lifetime.  The U.S. Education system is under pressure to innovate or reform.  Tell the Palomar Administration everything you’ve ever wanted to say (but were afraid to?) about the General Education experience at Palomar as you help us on our project to REdiscoverGE.

The Failure of General Education at Harvard – A Student Opinion

Read this fascinating critique of Harvard’s revised approach to General Eduction. Published in the Harvard Crimson. Click Here

Notes From Brown Bag Forum #1

Thank you to all who attended for a robust discussion.  Below is my commentary on one aspect of the discussion and  some bullet points from the general discussion, courtesy of Wendy Nelson.

One theme is emerging from our discussions but is only alluded to in the notes below. There is a clear contradiction between the stated philosophy of GE in Title V and the current policies of the California Community College System.  Although Title V mandates a broad set of accomplishments for GE, recent policies require students to get through their community college experience as quickly as possible, with penalties for exceeding the imposed limits on the number of units taken.   Financial aid also will also be terminated for students that are not on track to complete their education plan within the limited number of units.

These recent changes in CCC policies have been driven by financial crises and give no consideration to quality education.  When these policies were instituted, we all shrugged our shoulders and continued with our work.  We often feel powerless in the face of bureaucratic mechanisms.  I wonder, though, would we encourage our students to respond in the same way?  Isn’t it a key component of critical thinking to take action based on one’s conclusions.

All of this points to the need for concerted advocacy from coalitions of community college faculty and other interested parties.

-Michael Mufson-

 Notes from GE discussion 9/10/14

 Importance of GE courses:

  • GE provides an opportunity for exploration and it helps create well-rounded people.
  • GE courses can also give students a break from the intensity of their major courses.

Challenges for our students and GE:

  • Our students don’t know what they want to do and they are being rushed into completing GE courses.
  • When most students enter college they are really just forming their identity and they need the time to really explore GE.
  • There are some concerns with the messages students hear from counseling. We need to explore this.

Ideas for promoting GE at Palomar College:

  • Include something about the value of GE in the orientation process.
  • Create a video where we interview students and faculty about the value of the GE classes at Palomar.
  • Why are our classes in the GE program? We need to express this to our students – why are our classes in the GE program?

Other issues:

  • Are college’s supposed to be teaching these –morals, work habits, work ethics?
  • Problems with ethics – too much cheating in society

Gen Ed: Foundation or Forgotten?

A personal reflection on the discussion so far . . .

This  project,  REdiscoverGE, is about revitalizing  the purpose of General Education in the context of our changing world.

I fear that General Education has become a nuisance to dispense with before moving on to the ‘more important’ work of specialization and career development.   In a society that demands and rewards particalized specialization, what is the nucleus that binds the particles together?  In a culture obsessed with speed, efficiency and productivity, have we forgotten that it takes time for the flavors to emerge and mingle; and that it takes time to sense and savor the complexities of flavor?  In our mania to prepare students for the increasing demands of careerism, have we forgotten that a tower cannot reach the heights without a firm and broad foundation in the ground?

I hope that General Education can form a personal foundation. One in which students develop an understanding of their identities in relationship to the wider world.  Typical students enter college at a crucial time when they are newly independent and just beginning the journey of discovery.  Older students often return to college, compelled by their maturity and life experience, to seek  a deeper understanding of themselves.  In every field they encounter foundational ideas, methodologies, principles and questions.  They encounter struggles, delights and revelations.  They meet their limitations and learn to overcome them.  They begin to forge themselves in the fiery foundry of General Education.

Please join us as we grapple with these issues in our quest to rediscover and revitalize the General Education philosophy and curriculum here at Palomar College.

Your Questions Needed

As we pursue the project to REdiscoverGE, we have identified four initial questions to start the dialogue.  To create a truly inclusive and expansive discussion, we would like hear from you about the other questions that should be part of the dialogue.  Please post your questions in the comment box below and feel free to reply to already posted comments.

Competencies vs. Credit Hours – Even Public Broadcasting Is Against Teachers

I heard this segment on the PBS News Hour (formerly the Macneil Lehrer News Hour)  the other night and I thought, “We gotta do something about this.”  The entire segment glorifies the elimination of teachers and in-class credit hours in favor of competency based testing.  Only one brief interview defends the benefits of real, face-to-face interaction in the classroom.  When even Public Broadcasting is so biased against our profession we need to wake up!

PBS News Hour 08-25-14 Credit hrs-vs-compentencies.1     

I know it’s disturbing, but we need to see the trends before they run us over.  Here’s a link to the entire Rethinking Education Series on the PBS News Hour. Eat your Wheaties and Read It!

California Laws relating to General Education

Here are 3 excerpts from California Title V regarding General Education.  Thank you to Kendyl Magnuson for sending these our way.

Full Screen

For a fullscreen view click on the arrow box in the upper right corner of the document box.

Download (PDF, 73KB)


Download (PDF, 72KB)


Download (PDF, 80KB)

Long Beach City College Philosophy of General Ed

This link will take you to the Long Beach City College Philosophy of General Education.  It offers a very thoughtful and useful approach to the discussion we are having.  Thank you, Ellen Weller, for bringing it our attention.


Palomar Community College District Policy BP 4025

References: Title 5 Sections 55002, 55061, and 55063; Accreditation Standard II.A.3

The Superintendent/President shall establish procedures to assure that courses used to meet general education and associate degree requirements meet the standards in this policy. The procedures shall provide for the District to rely on the expertise of the faculty in these matters as expressed by actions of the Curriculum Committee and ratified by the Faculty Senate and the Governing Board.

The awarding of an Associate degree signifies the District’s success in leading students through patterns of learning experiences designed to develop certain capabilities, sensibilities, and insights. Among these are the ability to:

  • Think critically and to communicate clearly and effectively both orally and in writing
  • Use mathematics
  • Understand the modes of inquiry of the major disciplines
  • Be aware of the values and assumptions of their own and other cultures and times
  • Intelligently consider ethical problems and
  • Develop the desire and capacity for self-understanding

In addition, the District will ensure that the student possesses sufficient depth in some field of knowledge to contribute to:

  • continuing education
  • pursuing a career and/or
  • maintaining an abiding interest in the field

Central to an Associate degree, general education is designed to introduce students to the variety of means through which people comprehend the modern world. It reflects the conviction of colleges that those who receive their degrees must possess in common certain basic principles, concepts, and methodologies both specific to and shared by the various disciplines. College-educated persons must be able to use this knowledge when evaluating and appreciating the physical environment, the culture, and the society in which they live. Most important, general education should lead students to better understanding of the complexity yet understandability of the world in which they must make places for themselves.

In the establishing or modifying a general education program, the District will seek ways to create coherence and integration among the separate requirements.

Office of Primary Responsibility: Faculty Senate and Instructional Services

Date Adopted: 8/14/2012

Terry Eagleton on protecting the Humanities

Dangerous Idea: Humanities Are Dead     

Literary theorist Terry Eagleton speaks about the dangers of the recent trend towards diminishing and perhaps eliminating the Humanities from education.  This segment appeared on NPR’s To The Best of Our Knowledge, August 3, 2014. It’s only 3 minutes.

A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future

Click the link below to see the entire document

Two Short Excerpts:

A socially cohesive and economically vibrant US democracy…require[s]
informed, engaged, open-minded, and socially responsible people committed
to the common good and practiced in ‘doing’ democracy…. Civic learning
needs to be an integral component of every level of education, from grade
school through graduate school, across all fields of study.”

For Democracy’s Future: Five Essential Actions From The National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement

  1. Reclaim and reinvest in the fundamental civic and democratic  mission of schools and of all sectors within higher education.
  2. Enlarge the current national narrative that erases civic aims and civic literacy as educational priorities contributing to social, intellectual, and economic capital.
  3.  Advance a contemporary, comprehensive framework for civic learning—embracing US and global interdependence— that includes historic and modern understandings of democratic values, capacities to engage diverse perspectives and people, and commitment to collective civic problem solving.
  4. Capitalize upon the interdependent responsibilities of K–12 and higher education to foster progressively higher levels of civic knowledge, skills, examined values, and action as expectations for every student.
  5. Expand the number of robust, generative civic partnerships and alliances, locally, nationally, and globally to address common problems, empower people to act, strengthen communities and nations, and generate new frontiers of knowledge.

See Chapter III for the entire set of recommendations in the National Call to Action.