6、A nation should require all of its students to study the same national curriculum until they enter college.
13、Universities should require every student to take a variety of courses outside the student’s field of study.
“Universities should require every student to take a variety of courses outside the student’s field of study because acquiring knowledge of various academic disciplines is the best way to become truly educated.”
I fundamentally agree with the proposition that students must take courses outside their major field of study to become “truly educated.” A contrary position would reflect a too narrow view of higher education and its proper objectives. Nevertheless, I would caution that extending the proposition too far might risk undermining those objectives.
The primary reason why I agree with the proposition is that “me” education amounts to far more than gaining the knowledge and ability to excel in one’s major course of study and in one’s professional career. True education also facilitates an understanding of one- self, and tolerance and respect for the viewpoints of others. Courses in psychology, sociology, and anthropology all serve these ends. “True” education also provides insight and perspective regarding one’s place in society and in the physical and metaphysical worlds. Courses in political science, philosophy, theology, and even sciences such as astronomy and physics can help a student gain this insight and perspective. Finally, no student can be truly educated without having gained an aesthetic appreciation of the world around us–through course work in literature, the fine arts, and the performing arts.
Becoming truly educated also requires sufficient mastery of one academic area to permit a student to contribute meaningfully to society later in life. Yet, mastery of any specific area requires some knowledge about a variety of others. For example, a political-science student can fully understand that field only by understanding the various psychological, sociological, and historical forces that shape political ideology. An anthropologist cannot excel without understanding the social and political events that shape cultures, and without some knowledge of chemistry and geology for performing field work. Even computer engineering is intrinsically tied to other fields, even non-technical ones such as business, communications, and media. Nevertheless, the call for a broad educational experience as the path to becoming truly educated comes with one important caveat. A student who merely dabbles in a hodgepodge of academic offerings, without special emphasis on any one, becomes a dilettante lacking enough knowledge or experience in any single area to come away with anything valuable to offer. Thus in the pursuit of true education students must be careful not to overextend themselves—-or risk defeating an important objective of education.
In the final analysis, to become truly educated one must strike a proper balance in one’s educational pursuits. Certainly, students should strive to excel in the specific requirements of their major course of study. However, they should complement those efforts by pursuing course work in a variety of other areas as well. By earnestly pursuing a broad education one gains the capacity not only to succeed in a career, but also to find purpose and meaning in that career as well as to understand and appreciate the world and its peoples. To gain these capacities is to become “truly educated.”
15、Educational institutions should actively encourage their students to choose fields of study that will prepare them for lucrative careers.
17、Formal education tends to restrain our minds and spirits rather than set them free.
20、Some people believe that college students should consider only their own talents and interests when choosing a field of study. Others believe that college students should base their choice of a field of study on the availability of jobs in that field.
24、The best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative
The best way to teach—whether as an educator, employer, or parent—is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones.”
The speaker suggests that the most effective way to teach others is to praise positive actions while ignoring negative ones. In my view, this statement is too extreme. It overlooks circumstances under which praise might be inappropriate, as well as ignoring the beneficial value of constructive criticism, and sometimes even punishment.
The recommendation that parents, teachers, and employers praise positive actions is generally good advice. For young children positive reinforcement is critical in the development of healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. For students appropriate positive feedback serves as a motivating force, which spurs them on to greater academic achievement. For employees, appropriately administered praise enhances productivity and employee loyalty, and makes for a more congenial and pleasant work environment overall.
While recommending praise for positive actions is fundamentally sound advice, this advice should carry with it certain caveats. First, some employees and older students might fred excessive praise to be patronizing or paternalistic. Secondly, some individuals need and respond more appropriately to praise than others; those administering the praise should be sensitive to the individual’s need for positive reinforcement in the fzrst place. Thirdly, praise should be administered fairly and evenhandedly. By issuing more praise to one student than to others, a teacher might cause one recipient to be labeled by classmates as teacher’s pet, even if the praise is well deserved or badly needed. If the result is to alienate other students, then the praise might not be justified. Similarly, at the workplace a supervisor must be careful to issue praise fairly and evenhandedly, or risk accusations of undue favoritism, or even discrimination.
As for ignoring negative actions, I agree that minor peccadilloes can, and in many cases should, be overlooked. Mistakes and other negative actions are often part of the natural learning process. Young children are naturally curious, and parents should not scold their children for every broken plate or precocious act. Otherwise, children do not develop a healthy sense of wonder and curiosity, and will not learn what they must in order to make their own way in the world. Teachers should avoid rebuking or punishing students for faulty reasoning, incorrect responses to questions, and so forth. Otherwise, students might stop trying to learn altogether. And employees who know they are being monitored closely for any sign of errant behavior are likely to be less productive, more resentful of their supervisors, and less loyal to their employers.
At the same time, some measure of constructive criticism and critique, and sometimes even punishment, is appropriate. Parents must not turn a blind eye to their child’s behavior if it jeopardizes the child’s physical safety or the safety of others. Teachers should not ignore behavior that unduly disrupts the learning process; and of course teachers should correct and critique students’ class work, homework and tests as needed to help the students learn from their mistakes and avoid repeating them. Finally, employers must not permit employee behavior that amounts to harassment or that otherwise undermines the overall productivity at the workplace. Acquiescence in these sorts of behaviors only serves to sanction them.
To sum up, the speaker’s dual recommendation is too extreme. Both praise and criticism serve useful purposes in promoting a child’s development, a student’s education, and an employee’s loyalty and productivity. Yet both must be appropriately and evenhandedly administered; otherwise, they might serve instead to defeat these purposes.
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