Professors stress importance of core classes in becoming well-rounded thinkers

Abigail Piskel March 25, 2015 0

Core classes: we love them, and yet we hate them at the same time. We come to school to learn more about our intended fields so we can apply our knowledge to get jobs. But why do we need all of these other classes such as a social science, western cultural heritage, sciences or a math? Elizabethtown College is a liberal arts college, meaning that we should take these classes to become well-rounded individuals.

I know a lot of us probably feel the same way about taking Core classes: that they’re pointless, and if we aren’t going into that specific field then why should we take them? But really, we are enhancing ourselves and giving ourselves a better education.

Adjunct professor of mathematics Anne Montgomery shared some of the hopes she has for her students taking her classes. She said she wants to provide students the opportunity to refresh, refine and extend their prior math skills. She also hopes that her students will learn to appreciate the importance of structure, concepts and techniques in certain math courses. Lastly, she said that for the students that are majoring in math and math-intensive fields, “the Core courses should provide a strong foundation for higher mathematics.”

Dr. Michael Long, associate professor of religion and peace and conflict studies, asked one of his Core classes if they thought Etown was a good college. The general consensus was that yes, Etown is a good college because students are ensured that they will receive a well-rounded education that allows them to think outside of their major. To Long, a man who teaches many students for the Core requirement, he said that this answer made his day.

Dr. Jean Pretz, associate professor of psychology, said, “In general, I see the purpose of Core to expose students to a broad range of knowledge and skills. In Core you learn facts about many fields of study but you also learn about how each takes a slightly different approach to understanding the world.” She also commented on how by taking a variety of classes, students enrich their factual understanding of the world and shape their perception of it.

From the biology department, associate professor of biology, Dr. David Bowne said that it is important for students to take classes outside of their majors because they gain limited knowledge by only taking classes within their intended fields. He said he students can only get better at their major by taking other outside classes. This way we learn more about the outside influences acting on our specific areas of study. We can gain a better sense of communication and become well rounded, bringing our education full circle. Something that Bowne said that really stuck with me was when he said that you never know what is going to appeal to you; you never know where inspiration is going to come. I never thought of it that way, but it’s true. We can really find what interests us by taking other classes. We may find new interests that could spark a whole new level of education and learning development.

I also spoke with Dr. Patricia Ricci, director of the fine arts division, associate professor of the history of art, and a member of the women and gender studies department. Ricci said the three classes she teach “introduce students to a wide range of cultural traditions in human history from the prehistoric cave painting, through the development of the first cities, the design and construction of monumental architecture, and the most innovative works of art.” She also added, “I enjoy teaching Core courses because they are composed of students from different majors who contribute an interdisciplinary perspective to class discussions.”

So while we may complain about taking Core classes, they are an important part of our education. We can learn so much more about the world around us and the world within ourselves if we are open to learning and having new experiences. Etown not only prepares us for our future careers, but also fills us with knowledge. With class scheduling coming up within the next few weeks, I encourage you to look into classes that you think will interest and benefit you in the long run. Be prepared to learn, explore and enhance yourself.


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