Australian University Life

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Wed Mar 8 05:02:31 EST 2000


>Liberal Arts colleges grew out of "gentleman's education," i.e. in order to
>be a "man of the world," one ought to know a reasonable amount about a lot
>of things. The class and gender distinctions have largely (but not entirely)
>disappeared, but the principle is still one a lot of us grew up with. In a
>liberal arts program (which most Universities offer as one of the options
>within their bachelor's programs) you major in a subject, but also must take
>coursework in a variety of subjects.
>
>At Carleton [Blackstock] when I was there, the distribution requirements
>included:
>3 terms of math or science,
>2 terms of social sciences,
>3 terms of humanities,
>4 terms of physical education,
>foreign language equivalent to four terms of study,
>a writing requirement,
>and last but not least a swimming proficiency requirement

Sigh.  Science in U.C.D. in my day involved:
1st year - choose 4 of 6 science subjects
2nd year - choose 3 science subjects out of I think 21 permissible combinations
End of 2nd year - depending on exam results, you were able to do an Hons or
Gen degree.
3rd year - same 3 subjects for Gen degree,  2 of the 3 for Hons.
4th year (Hons only) - one of your two 3rd year subjects.

Somewhere in there we had to learn to read a scientific paper in a foreign
language - supposedly the language should be chosen by the country which
was publishing in your field, but of course, everyone did the language done
in school.  (I think this was only for Hons. Degrees, as you couldn't go on
to do research with a Gen. degree, but I'm not sure.)

Our introductory lecture had 350 of us scared witless in a lecture hall,
and we were told to look at the person sitting each side of us, and one of
the three of us would not make it through 1st year exams.  We were also
told that now we were in Uni., everything was going to be different, and
there'd be far less reliance on rote memorization.  I was more than a
little soured by discovering this was a blatant lie!

I chalk if off to whatever doesn't kill you, and am really enjoying
studying Arts now.  Quite possibly I'd have been so intimidated at 17 by
encountering people like Dean's "literate teens" that it would have killed
me.  But I do still harbour a completely irrational belief that a *real*
education is only to be obtained by writing "astute and beautiful" essays,
...about Keats, ...in Oxford.


Hallie (not offering any prizes for recognizing the above reference)
hallieod at indigo.ie





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