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Sacramento State approves history course that fails to teach history


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One of my main jobs - the one that pays the best, is Higher Ed consultant.  CA State, like most states, requires for a BA or BS degree that the student have a minimum of 3 semester hours (4 quarter hours) of history that teaches the past 100-150 years.  

 

Anthropology, like many soft science departments, has been taking it on the chin in enrollment.  It has LOTS of professors, and those professors have nothing to do - their classes are empty and they lack majors.  This is happening all over the country, with majors like English, Philosophy, and Political Science withering on the vine for a simple reason - 60,000 in loans and no job at the end is a tough sell.

 

The solution according to Sacramento State is to redefine the term "history."  The intention of the foundation History course is to provide a framework for a student understanding the past, usually through a paradigm of the study of events.  Anthropologists argue that history is not events but trends.  WW2 is a unimportant blip compared to the rise of socialism and the civil rights movement, which are trends. 

 

The new history course that will meet the university history requirement by talking about the history of racism, the history of sexism, the history of police violence, the history of social inequality, the history of modern slavery, modern economic imperialism, and the history of fiscal inequality.  The course itself is a valid anthropology course.  One advantage that the people who offer it see is that it will be more popular than traditional history courses as it will lack difficult fact based examinations, and instead will allow students to explore a more open concept of learning.  Again, a valid approach.

 

As a basic course that meets a requirement it will, the university hopes, fill enough seats to keep half a dozen professors employed in Anthropology.  Oddly enough one of the listed benefits is that they can slow the hiring of new history professors as this department becomes less relevant.

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I find the US practice of forcing unrelated subjects into degrees quite odd - from the age of 16 I've been able to focus on STEM subjects (save for a "general studies" (read: current affairs) A-level that neither I nor universities cared about), and if I had to keep studying english literature I'd be quite annoyed.

 

Oddly enough one of the listed benefits is that they can slow the hiring of new history professors as this department becomes less relevant.

 

History professors are expensive, they could get real jobs

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I find the US practice of forcing unrelated subjects into degrees quite odd - from the age of 16 I've been able to focus on STEM subjects (save for a "general studies" (read: current affairs) A-level that neither I nor universities cared about), and if I had to keep studying english literature I'd be quite annoyed.

 

I'm rather fond of most of the classes I took to get an actual well-rounded education. It isn't much of a requirement, and the history courses I took voluntarily far outnumbered them.

 

And I'd much rather deal with people who have at least a smattering of knowledge outside their specialization. I honestly hope we don't turn all our colleges into STEM knowledge mills.

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I'm rather fond of most of the classes I took to get an actual well-rounded education. It isn't much of a requirement, and the history courses I took voluntarily far outnumbered them.

 

And I'd much rather deal with people who have at least a smattering of knowledge outside their specialization. I honestly hope we don't turn all our colleges into STEM knowledge mills.

 

Wisconsin is trying really hard to make that a reality.

 

Maybe with our coming machine overlords nominally useless degrees (such as philosphy) will have more meaning.

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I wish they were too, because they are good and do help especially in impoverished areas, as they are easier to set up and easier to fund. Teaching poor people to be coders, technicians and engineers does wonders for their prospects, either allowing them to move to a better area or enriching their area. One of the BIG issues related to poverty is education, as business don't have a ready labor pool to draw from in poverty stricken areas (endless cycle, downward spiral, etc) so they just don't move there (combined with the higher crime rates).

 

I don't perfectly know how to implement it, I really don't, but pushing through education reform so that public school can actually meet impoverished areas needs, combined with technical schools and cooperation with business to incentivize moving to the local area should help. It's more than mere education though, a lot of these places have a negative attitude because they've received the shitty end of the stick for so long.

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My religion forced me into teaching as it did law enforcement, at least part-time and sometimes full-time.  

 

In the US the biggest problem with education is both the Republicans and Democrats are right, but since neither can admit that education cannot progress forward anymore.  Also educators themselves muck everything up because they want to keep their jobs.  

 

The fastest growing areas of education for well paying jobs is communication, engineering, health care, computer tech and biotech.  The problem with each of these fields is that each can be taught poorly and result in a practitioner who is unable to make a living in the field.  75% of the graduates of communication programs will be unable to hold a position in the field of communication.  Of the 25% remaining they will have very clear and precise skills in either Public Relations and Advertising (writing and math intensive) or digital media (photography, coding, filmmaking, and sound).  

 

Many colleges, acting like consumer product companies, are looking for the light programs.  So you are getting Engineering Arts degrees, an engineering degree that lacks science and math requirements.  This is simply taking the students you have and giving them what you can in hopes maybe they will find some way to live on it.  Of course for 30% of our student body college is just a place to hang out before their parents wealth makes them independent until they die.

 

I am an advocate of the slow removal of universities from public funding, truth in advertising degree programs, and a strict diet for the university system removing all frills from the education process, and a complete revamping of degree certifications, plus a similar tracking system for high school students into votech and college high schools, with opportunities for students to retract when they are adults after life experiences prepare them for education better..  The university is, bar none, the place where the western world was created and the scientific revolution birthed, and we are letting it go.

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While you can make effective claims for awful teachers holding onto their jobs forever, it's easy enough to say that to become a teacher is highly unrewarding. Part of it comes form this countries outlook, which IMHO needs to change. Teachers are the one of the most important jobs next to childcare I can think of, as they are responsible for raising and training the next generation. People in both should be brought to a higher standard and a higher level of pay. Yet, without some minimum standards for both the professionals and institutions to follow, it'll become a race-to-the-bottom focus on the budget, whether it be through a dearth of funding like in poor urban areas, or where profit matters most, like a charter school (which I highly dislike).

 

Also, color skeptical any move of universities to private funding, wherein the wealthy will have near exclusive influence and attendance. You already have a momentous task of getting society to drop university/college requirements for a growing number of positions, reducing universities to STEM factories for the wealthy doesn't seem to solve anything. However, I'm jumping ahead of you, as you haven't really explained fully what you meant.

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Our impression of the US university system is that it produced very poor undergraduates. The simple reason being that my undergraduate degree in plant biotech consisted almost entirely of genetics, organic chemistry, statistics, zoology and botany. I spent three years doing nothing else, compared to a US student who might spend a good deal of the time doing not-biotech related things. The end result is that a BSc graduate from South Africa has about the same level of knowledge of BSc-related stuff as an Hons grad from the US. Thereafter the US folk rapidly catch up by dint of heroic effort, so their MSc and PhD grads are on par (but nearly dead from exhaustion).

 

Broad education is all well and good to talk about, but my experience is that the folks who really want to will broaden their educations anyway, while the folk who don't will simply fritter the time away on demonstrably useless courses designed simply to add a few points to their degree.

 

As for financing, I'm happy that the public/private model we already have works (if not that well) and see bad things in store if universities go all-private. Specifically, that some bean counter will do the math and realise that they can't compete with the top-tier institutions on quality, and then simply switch to being degree mills.

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While you can make effective claims for awful teachers holding onto their jobs forever, it's easy enough to say that to become a teacher is highly unrewarding. Part of it comes form this countries outlook, which IMHO needs to change. Teachers are the one of the most important jobs next to childcare I can think of, as they are responsible for raising and training the next generation. People in both should be brought to a higher standard and a higher level of pay. Yet, without some minimum standards for both the professionals and institutions to follow, it'll become a race-to-the-bottom focus on the budget, whether it be through a dearth of funding like in poor urban areas, or where profit matters most, like a charter school (which I highly dislike).

 

In the state I'm in, being an elementary/high school track is a less promising career track than working hard to manage a McDonald's.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A planet with a highly elliptical orbit would have some unusual, interesting seasons.

 

Unlike ours, the seasons would be the same in both hemispheres (unless there was strong axial tilt on top of the eccentricity of the orbit) at the same time.

 

Also, winter would be much longer than summer, as the planet would move much faster through it's orbit when it was close to the sun (Kepler's laws).

 

A fun world-building exercise, perhaps.

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