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I think the required Humanities courses in college are a waste of time


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#61 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3680

Posted 28 January 2013 - 05:43 PM

So, I ask again; in the US are you told up front on course if you have to take non-major classes and are these choices spelt out anywhere? i.e. If I applied for a Comp. Sci major am I going to be told 'btw, you'll have to take an English Lit. classes too' up front?

I suppose it is possible that you could manage to avoid ever reading it, but it's pretty unlikely.

It's spelled out in the course catalog they send out when your application is accepted, and it's spelled out on the university and/or department websites (by law). It also constitutes a gross failure on the part of your college adviser if they didn't explain what a "liberal arts college" means, since that parlance is consistent across the US...

 

For my degree, you couldn't even sign up for classes without getting advised by a professor in the department, who would help you decide what to take. You would have to try very hard to be ignorant of the required courses. Many of the first courses you have to take are "General Education" classes like basic English, Math, and a lab science, regardless of your degree program. You then had to take 2 classes in your 3rd or 4th year from outside your "college," i.e. if you were in the College of Engineering you had to take the courses in Arts and Sciences, Education, or Business.

 

So for example, I was in Arts and Sciences (Geography major), and took Energy and Policy, taught by an engineering professor.

 

I think OP's mistake is in assuming that since Art History is boring, that all humanities courses are worthless to  him.


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#62 SiCrane   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9669

Posted 28 January 2013 - 06:44 PM

Personally, I became a lot more sympathetic to the idea of humanities requirements for science and engineering students once I stopped thinking of them as primarily for art or history or what not and instead as practicums for research and composition skills. I often think that communication skills are not emphasized enough for engineering students.

#63 Selenaut   Members   -  Reputation: 102

Posted 28 January 2013 - 08:47 PM

I shall attempt to give a constructive response, in the form of multiple counter-arguments/questions:

  • As previous posters have stated, why are you taking that class specifically, if you a) don't like it and b) are fully aware that there is almost certainly more than one humanities class at your college?
  • If you are seriously looking into a game development career, why don't you understand that coding by itself does not yield a (halfway decent) video game? You probably understand that programming is definitely one of the most, if not THE most, important aspect of creating a video game; however, what would any current best-selling game be without art, music, plot, and personality?
  • Why wouldn't art history be useful? You are free to argue on this one, but I believe that understanding art is a good thing - especially when it comes to making games. Art can lead to a game's personality, resulting in a whole LOAD of opportunity to tweak the game to make it more enjoyable and fitting.
  • If you are simply stating that you hate all humanities, then may I ask how you came to that conclusion if you have never looked into all of the many topics that humanities covers?

Please don't confuse my tone; I'm trying to give multiple counter-arguments, don't confuse this with being a jerk. laugh.png

 

Selenaut



#64 Robot Ninja   Members   -  Reputation: 569

Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:47 AM

I am also curious if Art History was your only choice to fulfill your Humanities course requirement. At my university, we were provided by our advisors at orientation with a class schedule for our majors that listed which courses we could generally take to fulfill parts of our requirements for our degree. I would find it hard to believe that the class your taking was the only one available, unless your schedule did not permit you to take any other classes. On the other hand, perhaps you initially thought Art History was the best choice out of the ones you were provided. Whatever the fact, I just hope that you won't base your opinion of every other Humanities class on your negative experience with this one.

 

I come from a Humanities background (Psychology to be specific), and of course there were such courses that I tried to avoid. Funny enough, I declined from taking Art History. Don't get me wrong - I can really appreciate art, and I admire artists every day for all of the work they produce. The "history" element was what made me hesitant. Anyways, it's unfortunate that Art History is not an interesting subject for you, but we all have our own taste in things. Like others have suggested, if you still must fulfill another Humanities requirement, or if you need some extra units and are up for it, try out a course in philosophy, music, cultural/ethnic studies, gender studies, psychology (my personal favorite!), or hell, even another art class (something more hands on - i.e. drawing, painting, photography). Try whatever you think will interest you the most by the description of the class, or ask one of your friends if they took a course that they found particularly interesting.

 

Finally, I want to sort of clarify further what I think a lot of comments are saying regarding interacting and socializing with others out in the world and workplace. As a Computer Science student you may be able to think of dozens of different ways a computational problem may be solved, but I can almost guarantee that some of the perspectives that you are exposed to in the social sciences would flip your world upside down (even if momentarily). Like how you must approach a CS problem from different perspectives to come up with the best solution, oftentimes you must approach life and other people from a different perspective. Like anything else, it's difficult to know that such perspectives exist until we are exposed to them. Good luck! smile.png

 

P.S. Sorry for the essay! laugh.png


Edited by Robot Ninja, 29 January 2013 - 03:55 AM.


#65 Rattrap   Members   -  Reputation: 1788

Posted 29 January 2013 - 06:47 AM

I took History of Technology as a humanity.  The class was known for being taken by CS majors as a Pass/Fail course.  The professor knew this, and if you just did the tests and quizzes (all pop quizzes, his version of taking attendance) you could get a C (which was passing).  If you wanted a B, you had to write a (iirc) 10 page research paper.  A 15 page paper got you an A.

 

Prof was real interesting too.  Didn't use email ("Ah yes, I have heard of this email thing...") and all of the test and quizzes were copied using a mimeograph (and this was only 10 years ago).

 

Still the class was genuinely interesting.

 

[edit]

What killed me was the language requirements.  Had to take 4 semesters of a foreign language.  Got a D in German 202 and was ecstatic it was over.


Edited by Rattrap, 29 January 2013 - 06:49 AM.


#66 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 901

Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:16 AM

A little context is important here, though. He isn't in the UK, he's in the US, where a liberal arts education implies just that, a comprehensive cross-section of the sciences and humanities.

It isn't as if he didn't have a choice (we have trade schools and polytechs that function as you describe), and it isn't as if he didn't know this going in (unless he refused to read the degree outline, in which case, it's on him).

If it is possible to go to a University that specialises in one area, and get a comparable degree (i.e., one that's accepted on the same level - in the UK, "polytechnic" meant something different to a University), that's fair enough. I'd always got the impression that having to study a range of courses was standard in the US, but maybe it's just that it's more common, and not the only way.

I guess the question to the OP is what made him choose his University.

But still, many people weren't criticising him not on the grounds of "You chose the wrong University", but suggesting that the idea of specialising was wrong, and people were better off studying a range of different subjects at University level, which I don't agree is necessarily true.

Indeed, just look at the very next comment from someone else:

OP, since you seem to be under the impression that college is just job training and just want to be a computer science robot then you should probably just drop out of whatever college you are in now and go to ITT/DeVry.

Here's a protip though: Employers don't want robots.

How does studying History stop one being a "robot"?

Plus, since you and others are arguing based on what employers want, it sounds like you are arguing that college is just job training. It's me who argues the opposite - that University is to get an education in a specific area, and isn't the place to pick up what random extra bits you may need for a job, or indeed improve your dating skills or whatever else. You should have already done that, and be continuing to do that - a History lesson isn't going to magically make you pick up general job skills.

@Selenaut: You can argue "Why wouldn't X be useful" for every subject. At that point, we no longer have an advanced specialisation in one area, but a place where people learn bits of every subject - i.e., school. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with it, but I don't think it's necessarily right either. Whether you have a general education age until 16, 18, 21 or whatever, at some point you have to draw the line, and then let people specialise if they want. Yes, art history can be useful, but that's already been taught in school. At any time in someone's life, you could argue that they could be doing more to learn more art history, along with everything else.

I guess one question is whether the extra subjects come at the expense of advanced specialisation. In the UK, degrees are typically 3-5 years, but my understanding is that University degrees can be longer, which would explain how the extra subjects can be fitted in. In an ideal world, doing more education is a good thing. But you have to balance that with the costs - a later age entering the job market and so on, as well as even higher education costs, which with tuition fees leaves people with even higher debt.

As for a game, my understanding is that most games are developed with people specialised in different areas, rather than one guy doing everything.
http://erebusrpg.sourceforge.net/ - Erebus, Open Source RPG for Windows/Linux/Android
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mark.harman/conquests.html - Conquests, Open Source Civ-like Game for Windows/Linux

#67 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 10367

Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:48 AM

What killed me was the language requirements.  Had to take 4 semesters of a foreign language.  Got a D in German 202 and was ecstatic it was over.

Moi aussi. Scraped through French with a C average. Ruined my final year GPA.

 

In the UK, degrees are typically 3-5 years, but my understanding is that University degrees can be longer, which would explain how the extra subjects can be fitted in.

In the US bachelors degrees are all 4 years, with very occasional exceptions (electrical engineering was 5 years at my university, because there was so much material to cover).


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#68 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:55 AM

What killed me was the language requirements.  Had to take 4 semesters of a foreign language.  Got a D in German 202 and was ecstatic it was over.

Moi aussi. Scraped through French with a C average. Ruined my final year GPA.

 

My high school required spanish, so I didn't have to take a language in university. Good on ya high school.



#69 Rattrap   Members   -  Reputation: 1788

Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:22 AM

My high school required spanish, so I didn't have to take a language in university. Good on ya high school.

 

I actually took 3 years of French in High School and struggled with it too.  At Purdue, they actually required if you had taken language previously that you couldn't take the 101 class.  You had to take an advanced 103 class.  I knew that would end badly, so I decided to try something different.  English I can handle just fine (in fact was honors English in both high school and college), but I just really struggled with foreign languages.  I think part of what drove me crazy in French and German were things like word gender.  I could never find any rhyme or reason to it most of the time.  It was just pure memorization.



#70 Selenaut   Members   -  Reputation: 102

Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:35 AM

Note that in French if a noun ends in e, then it is quite often female, with a few exceptions (e.g. libre, meaning book). wink.png

 

Selenaut



#71 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 10367

Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:45 AM

Note that in French if a noun ends in e, then it is quite often female, with a few exceptions (e.g. libre, meaning book). wink.png

But it's not even approaching the status of a "rule". I appreciate that English bends its own rules a fair amount too - but nothing on French.

 

For goodness sake, there are two whole tenses that are only used in specific forms of literature...


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#72 Barzai   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 665

Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:51 AM

I still think its a waste of time and money and I wouldn't miss a thing if I didn't take them. Another question: why dont they allow us to take a courses on personal finance as a GE? That's be a lot more helpful in keeping people from swiping their plastic too much. How about a GE course in computer science? No way, learning about platos allegory of the cave is way more important to know sad.png

 

Interesting choice for an example, the allegory of the cave.  It's an example from around 2400 years ago or so of how integral the abilities of the observer of a phenomenon are to how that phenomenon is perceived.  Obviously, that wasn't Plato's main point, but it's definitely there.

 

Hmmm, are there any other occupations in which considering how observers handle what they see is integral to how one would produce his wares?  Perhaps if a man were to get into a field in which he created virtual worlds or something, it could be useful for that man to have insights into how people observe.  Or, at the very least, always keep the existence of the observer in mind as he creates his product.

 

Universities are generally different from tech schools, because universities attempt to teach you how to interact in a wide variety of situations while tech schools attempt to teach a specific skill.  One excellent skill that can be gained from a university education, though, is the ability to find the intersections of seemingly unconnected fields.  That in itself will make you better at handling complex problems.



#73 Rattrap   Members   -  Reputation: 1788

Posted 29 January 2013 - 12:18 PM

Think we're getting off topic here biggrin.png

 

Note that in French if a noun ends in e, then it is quite often female, with a few exceptions (e.g. libre, meaning book). wink.png

 

Selenaut

 

That wasn't as much the issue with me, it was more WHY was a word that particular gender. (That logical computer science nature at work.)  I have to remember what the gender is, so I can use the proper articles and sometimes conjugate the proper verb.



#74 BCullis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1813

Posted 29 January 2013 - 12:47 PM

A US university doesn't teach you your trade, it gives you a foundational skill-and-experience-set and teaches you how to learn.  Liberal Arts degrees expose you to learning in fields outside of your focus to further strengthen that ability.  You'll be learning for the rest of your life, if you practice and solidify your learning skills (and recognize that the majority of your college courses are there to provide the practice) it will make you much more successful and productive.

 

I believe at some point OP mentioned this is their last GE course, so a lot of the suggestions here are a bit late to the party.  Hopefully other people can pick up on the good parts, though.


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#75 Selenaut   Members   -  Reputation: 102

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:14 PM

I still hold the belief that learning a little about things other than one's main focus is good. I mean, could you imagine how difficult life would be if literally all a person knew was all math known to man and nothing else? Times would most certainly be rough for him.

 

Obviously this is the most extreme case, but it applies for everything in between. Anyway, if you don't enjoy it, find a way to make it enjoyable: I often find that learning is much more interesting and satisfying if you relate it to things you like - like game development.

 

Selenaut



#76 ISDCaptain01   Members   -  Reputation: 1443

Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:41 PM

What killed me was the language requirements.  Had to take 4 semesters of a foreign language.  Got a D in German 202 and was ecstatic it was over.

Moi aussi. Scraped through French with a C average. Ruined my final year GPA.

 

 

sab="1964">>In the UK, degrees are typically 3-5 years, but my understanding is that University degrees can be longer, which would explain how the extra subjects can be fitted in.

In the US bachelors degrees are all 4 years, with very occasional exceptions (electrical engineering was 5 years at my university, because there was so much material to cover).

 

 

Not anymore, maybe only on paper. If you live in heavily populated areas then good luck getting any classes. The community college I go to alone has 64,000 students and the story is the same nearby. Im already in my 3rd year yet im not in upper division, and taking all these GE classes doesnt help to get out any faster, since they themselves are hard enough to get. And to top that off with the very high attrition rates in the STEM majors, a 4 year degree can easily become 6 year venture or more


Edited by ISDCaptain01, 29 January 2013 - 08:10 PM.


#77 BCullis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1813

Posted 30 January 2013 - 08:12 AM

And to top that off with the very high attrition rates in the STEM majors, a 4 year degree can easily become 6 year venture or more

Having trouble following this, can you elaborate?  I'd expect high attrition rate to open up seats, not keep you out of classes.


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