Spectrum Logo
A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

To The Editor

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 35 - July 11, 1996

TO THE EDITOR

As one who works with students trying to satisfy the requirements of the bizarre collection of miscellaneous courses we have the nerve to call the "Core Curriculum," I could not help but be both amused and disappointed at the comments in the June 13 Spectrum regarding the "Creativity and Aesthetic Experience" course offered by our "school" of Arts. The article claims that "the course is so popular it has to be closed after 580 students are enrolled in it."

The amusing part is the writer's claim that the course is popular, based on its high enrollments. I suppose then that the same claim should be made about Math 1205, English 1105, Chemistry 1035, and other courses which are "required" for hundreds of students. The truth is that FA 2004 exists only because a requirement for such a course was added to the Core Curriculum a few years back, and it is one of only a handful of one-credit courses which will satisfy this one-credit requirement.

My disappointment comes from the admission of the Arts folks that, after they succeeded in forcing every student on this campus to take a course which provided a "creative and aesthetic experience," they refuse to allocate enough space in the course to accommodate even 25 percent of the students who must take it. At 580 students per semester they can accommodate only about one-fourth of the core-mandated need for the course. It seems like they, along with many others who want their courses required as part of the core, think everyone should take their course but don't really want to take the time to teach it.

This, of course, isn't the first time this has happened. One of the original bases for the core was the need for students to learn to write and every course in the humanities and social science (now called Areas 2 and 3) was supposed to have a substantial writing component. Then the people teaching those courses found that all that writing required a lot of grading time. So the writing quickly disappeared, only to reappear as a new requirement for Writing Intensive courses in the core. This new writing requirement had to be written so the courses have to be in each student's major. That way, the people in English, humanities, and social sciences wouldn't have to deal with all that writing and the job would be passed along to faculty members in accounting, civil engineering, crop science, hotel and restaurant management, etc.-people who obviously know much more about writing than those in Arts and Sciences!

Our Core Curriculum seems to be filled with "popular" courses which we are absolutely sure every student needs in order to become a well-educated member of society. Now, if we could only find faculty members and academic departments willing to commit to actually teach the same ideals they want to demand of everyone else's students.

Jim Marchman, professor and assistant department head of aerospace and ocean engineering member, Commission for Undergraduate Studies