April 26th, 2007

On breadth

Wow, thanks for the fascinating reading responses yesterday. Despite one teensy freak-out over having possibly alienated Kerry (no!) with my over-glibness (a problem that I have), I enjoyed the discussion. I do feel compelled to clarify, though, that I actually really did *like* The Lovely Bones. I guess the thing I am judgey about is message/moral focussed reading–like, “I spent $30 on this book, I’d better emerge a better person.” I feel that I read for specific, intimate stories of real (even if imaginary) lives, and that to “use” the lessons of a book in my own life would require a level of generality I dislike. However Kulsum is right, who am I to judge? If you are reading Anna Karenina for ideas on how to execute your extra-marital affair with panache, ok, maybe I get to judge (maybe not), but otherwise, a reader is a reader.

Anyway, I think I somehow veered away in my post from my original question, which was about the good of breadth requirements in undergrad. Below is a more concise and focussed query, if you are interested in pursuing it. I put it up on Facebook, too, as there’s a slightly different audience over there. Any non-lit majors wanna weigh in? I know you’re out there! If people respond, I’ll put together another post; if there’s silence, I’ll let this topic die a peaceful death.

A genius marketing plan
RR

On breadth

I have been wondering what people think about breadth requirements in undergraduate education. I’m not even sure all universities have them–it means that whatever discipline you are in, you must take at least one humanties, one social science, one math/science and one language class. I actually loved the classes I took to fulfill that requirement, but I was wondering if that wasn’t just luck, if being forced to take a class in something you dislike doesn’t actually push you further from it. Thoughts? Memories of years and classes past?

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