Monday, March 3, 2014

An Educated Man





Dear Readers,

Mt. Pleasant Iowa is known for three things of great value:  Iowa Wesleyan College, Jerry's Pizza, and Old Threshers Reunion, not necessarily in that order, but pretty much.  I recently received a missive (tuition was not wasted) from the President of the College with news of some interest.  

The letter stated that 16 majors were removed in the interest to "better position Iowa Wesleyan for the future."  That's code, of course, for shrinking enrollment and realigning studies for courses parents will pay for.  

Gone are studio art, sociology, history, philosophy, theology, communication, forensic science, general studies/liberal studies and 7 teacher education majors.

Added include business administration, nursing, human services, elementary education, physical education, exercise science and education, visual communication and design, psychology, Christian studies, biology, criminal justice,  English and music.

This isn't the first time IWC has reinvented itself.  A few years ago it added several nursing classes to the curriculum.  Of course the school has always been aware of its need to keep up the student rolls.  When I was there around the turn of the century, they moved all fraternities back into school housing because of decreased enrollment.  

So, in an age of higher costs for schools and less students, IWC has made itself into a high class and high cost community college.  When a liberal arts college does not teach art, philosophy, theology, sociology or history, but instead teaches PE and Nursing, it no longer carries the age old and respected mantel of a well rounded all-inclusive liberal arts education.  

While I am not so naive as to expect a small school without name recognition in Southeast Iowa to blindly go forth without recognition of a constantly changing world outside,  I also think there are fields that are immutable (another proof of good return on tuition monies) in the face of change.  Not only am I saddened by the news, but I am also aware of the many students who will walk the campus for 4 years and graduate thinking they are educated at the end of that walk, only to discover they are ignorant of Plato, Kierkegaard, Logic, Saint Augustine, John Milton, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  They will think they know it all but lack having sat in class for History of British People, Ethics, Russia To 1905/Twentieth Century Russia, Social Philosophy or Psychology of Religion, and World History.  They will go to their homes in Chicago, Belvedere, Aledo and Waverly, and proclaim themselves educated, but never having studied Art and Civilization, or Cultural or Theological Encounters.

And their parents will be so proud they can apply a tourniquet, design a website, do 50 push ups, and describe the muscles of the ulnar regions.   And having had a Jerry's Pizza is no small thing. 

A Former Liberal Arts Educated Student











2 comments:

  1. It is indeed a sad state of affairs. College is becoming a place that values rote learning. Here are the facts you need to remember. Here is your multiple choice test. Please vomit the correct facts back on the test sheet. Congratulations you are a college graduate. Facts were a small part of my liberal arts education. The real goal was to teach me to think. To make me question those facts, examine their source, determine their truth. To turn those facts inside out and upside down to determine if that is what they were, facts. I don't miss education I miss seeing young people being taught to THINK!

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