General Education = more to add to the CSU moneybags

I’m sending this to the school student newspaper…

Hey marine bio professor, we know you want to get rid of us general ed students so you can get back to your research, we see it every morning as you rush through the bullshit attendance quizzes and recycled lectures. We know you know/care little about what lies beyond the box of objective marine biology, as your drifting off and evasion of detail in answering students’ questions of application adequately demonstrate.

We know you could give a shit about what we learn, as the BeachBoard readings you “test” us on only show us your scholarly glory and that the larger issues within the box of marine biology are worthless compared to the minute details of the whaling industry and dolphin slaughters that actually appear on our Scantron tests—larger issues that could maybe get a student caring or thinking about this class in a more practical manner, gods forbid. Plus you shrug off the suggestions & comments we try to offer as your students.

You spend sufficient time recounting anecdotes scarcely-related to the topic at hand yet expect us to proficiently recount any of an infinite number of details from an obscure section of the textbook, further proving your apparent lack of objective in “teaching.” We cram your study guide up to the darkest crooks of our assholes yet it’s the previously-unspecified finer details with no laudable purpose that appear on your exams. Why do I want to be taught by someone who doesn’t want me to learn?

I love learning, and I loved a good number of the GE classes I’ve taken in my four years at CSULB—classes of 200 students in large lecture halls full of eye candy are great for the collective anti-wake-up-for-an-early-class vibe—but when fulfilling vain criteria becomes the sole means of taking required courses, and comprehending a larger picture is irrelevant, I realize that the C in CSU no longer stands for California, it stands for Corporate.

Let’s be quite generous and say there are only 200 students overall enrolled in this mandatory GE class—biology—every semester. I’m going to go out on a whim here and, still being quite generous, say that only about a quarter of that hypothetical number a) have a major requiring this course or simply b) actually give somewhat of a shit about the topic at hand. Where does that leave the other 75%– graduating literature students, senior class film/art majors, fifth-year business administration kids taking this last GE class to finally get their goddam diplomas? I’ll leave that question open.

150 students is roughly four laboratory sections. Does the school pay the aquarium for four lab classes’ worth of entry fees when we have our field trip there? What about the gasoline and crew & captain’s pay for that big boat those four lab classes took out into the bay? Drift from the economics—what about the pollution from taking that big boat out and capturing a bunch of sea creatures, four times? Make that eight times, I hear it wasn’t just my class that had to throw the otter trawl out a second time because they didn’t catch any ocean dwellers the first time. Sounds like a great waste of resources on account of the obligatory “education” of 150 kids that don’t give a shit.

Oh wait, I think I know why those 150 students still have to take the class.

Each of those 150 students—that still don’t give a shit about the subject, in case if you’ve forgotten— still pay $40 for a shiny brand-new iClicker quiz-taking gizmo for the professor to be able to babysit and dock you points when you don’t show up to class. That’s $6000. With a rough approximation of each CSU unit costing $150 (also pretty generous), that’s another $22,500 for the school/program. Oh yeah, the book—$130—$19,500. Let’s be fair and only include half of that money paid for the iClicker and the book, since the school doesn’t produce them—so $3000 and $9,750, respectively—and we have a grand total of $30,000. Rough, yes, but this figure is what the school hypothetically makes from forcing 150 students who don’t give a shit to take an arbitrary class (and that’s also not tallying the $25 lab and lecture manuals—the only way to get the syllabus or take notes or complete assignments!)! $30,000 is a lot of money from students who don’t want to be there in the first place. Sure, maybe some good will come out of it one day. But not when your attitude’s in the gutter upon seeing your achieved D after staying up the last two nights studying for the exam.

It would seem, therefore, that students are no longer paying to educate themselves, but paying simply to employ the faculty, who do research in their non-teaching hours that may someday help the school’s reputation. Cool, but I don’t get it. With mandatory GE classes that do not interest a large percentage of the student body, there is no benefit—economic nor academic—to be profited by the student. Wasn’t this whole go-to-college thing about us in the first place?

I sense the CSU system is an effective parallel to that of our country’s management, albeit localized: as long as consumers believe they’re paying towards their own well-being, they won’t stop to question the world they’ve been born into.


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Another twenty some odd young adult who believes he sees things from a unique perspective. Here be my poetry & prose, short stories, favored school papers, rantings, and "blogs." Comment, critique, and profit.


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