Aug 07, 2020

Graduation requirements fail students

Graduation approaches swiftly for the class of 2007, and as it does, Fresno State seniors have to cope with the demands of the “real world� for a certain degree of readiness their education should have prepared them for.

The basic standards to which the real world holds college graduates stipulate that graduates have at least some expertise in a given area — their majors — and also have a well-rounded education, a body of extra knowledge that can prove invaluable to critical thinking.

This is a skill that most serious professions demand and that we, when we graduate, are expected to have.

The fundamental goal of a liberal education is to prepare us for precisely these standards. Functioning as the cornerstone of the liberal education — indeed, at the root of the word “liberal� — is the idea of the book — that we have read and that our education has come from reading a relatively large number of books.

So how is it that we can get through college without ever having read a piece of literature?

Still, a cursory glance at General Education requirements for the school will verify that a person can graduate from Fresno State without ever taken any courses in either English literature or from the humanities department, and there are perhaps some graduates leaving the school this semester without ever having been exposed to serious literature — the books that are supposed to represent the best of the best.

It’s not even that we’re partial to the Western canon — we don’t feel every student needs to try to wade through “Paradise Lost� or read the entire output of Shakespeare. We even reluctantly admit that a person can probably get by pretty well in this world without ever having looked at a line of Homer’s poetry.

But we do believe that people should go out into the world familiar with at least a few of the classic novels and poems, and more importantly, should know how to approach literature and the issues that it presents.

We are paying for this education and we should demand this of it, even if it does not of us.

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