Courses are Not the Answer

Requiring a course in a certain subject is not equivalent to wanting students to have knowledge of said subject.

Wherever you stand on the Pope Center’s mandatory-economics debate, don’t think that in practice, the solution to this quandary involves the implementation (or not) of a required economics class for all students.

Undergraduates, in general, don’t “study” anything.  They complete a series of courses that look like a course of study, but are really just checkboxes that demand little retention from course to course. Some of the most gifted students are able to see the integration of class material, but from my view on the front lines, most students are not. 

I wish degrees consisted of fewer courses, but deeper study of subject matter.

A course in economics (or U.S. history for that matter) does not assure that students will be more educated in that subject. If we want to close a knowledge gap in our graduates, we first have to decide on what experience we want to create. Then we can see if a new class is the answer. Otherwise, we are just adding a new dish to a crowded buffet table. 

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