Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Almost every college student can relate to having to take a general education class that they were not particularly interested in but that does not mean every student has the same experience once they were enrolled, depending on the type of professor they had.

The need for good teachers is extremely important, especially in general education classes. What makes a good teacher isn’t necessarily their tests, the amount of classes they teach, how much research they do, or how strict they are. What makes a good teacher comes from the desire they have for their students to learn, not just pass a test.

Over the past four years, I have had both types of teachers and I can tell you that I got better grades in the classes where the teacher engaged the students, talked to them, not at them, and had the passion for the subject they were teaching.

The point of general education classes is to give everyone a basic knowledge that will help them function in society even if it is not their main interest of study. For example, a student can graduate with a degree in science but they will still know how to write properly, communicate effectively, and understand the nation’s history. All of these things can help them further their career and have a better understanding of the world.

The problem with general education classes is that they are the ones that tend to be taught with less passion. When a class is a general education requirement, teachers are aware that not all the students in their class are interested in the subject. Some teachers take this as a sign to expect less from the student and the student will expect less from them. It seems like everyone agrees that students should just get the information to pass the test and move on.

This interaction between professors and students has some benefits: the student gets a passing grade, which makes them happy, and the professor passes most of their students, which means they are likely to keep their job. But what was the point of this general education class? Did the student really get anything out of the lessons?[pullquote]The need for good teachers is extremely important.[/pullquote]

In most cases, the answer is no. When students are taught to pass the tests, they are not retaining the information or learning how to apply it outside of the classroom that means the whole point of general education classes are not being fulfilled.

Passionate teachers are the ones that students learn from, the ones that students remember years later, and the ones that students get good grades in because they explain the content until the student understands it; not because they teach the student the test.

General education classes are also supposed to help students decide what he/she want to pursue a career in. Maybe a student is not interested in the subject before they takes the class but that does not mean that with the right teacher, the student could learn something that changes the way they think about it.

I came to college undeclared because I had no idea what I wanted to do. I needed to use my general education classes to help me find my niche. I took an Anthropology class freshman year and the teacher was extremely smart. She did not use a book or notes just sat in front of the class and spoke. But, she never engaged the students, asked questions, or used any type of visual. I cannot tell you one thing I learned in that class today, but I got an A. That same year, I took a level 100 writing class. This was also a general education requirement but the teacher encouraged students to express themselves in their writing and in the classroom. She lectured with energy, asked the students questions, and encouraged them to share their stories and ideas. I did not become an English major after taking the class but I do use certain tools that she taught me when I write papers.

My last example of how a teacher can positively change a class is from my public speaking class. Public speaking is usually something people really dislike. But, this teacher talked to the class, used visuals, made the students get involved, and by the end of the class I felt like I knew the teacher well, and all my classmates. My teacher made each student feel comfortable standing in front of a crowd and did not just teach us the facts about public speaking. She used the knowledge she had to help students grow and become better public speakers by engaging and making them participate. In this class, I also received an A but I worked extremely hard to get that grade because I was encouraged to keep improving.

I became a communication studies major after that, but not everyone in the class did and they still will remember the skills they learned to help in their own fields.

General education classes can influence, educate, and at the least bit teach students something they will remember years after college when they are taught by professors who have a passion for students to learn; but they become useless when no one (student or teacher) is encouraged to perform at their very best.

Colleen Curry is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at CC763513@wcupa.

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