Many colleges around the country feel that prescribing a core curriculum helps their students obtain a more well rounded college education. Classes in core curriculums generally include science, math, social science, and English classes. Some colleges try to link their core classes to one another by running a common theme through them.
The core curriculum is intended to ensure that students take a wide variety of courses during their college years by requiring them to take classes in several subject areas. Williams College has thus far managed to avoid dictating a core curriculum for its students. This is one of the best things about Williams – one is free to make the majority of ones class choices on one’s own, while at the same time being guided into a well-rounded education through means other than a set series of courses.
The distribution requirements ensure that students take a variety of classes in a variety of fields during their four years at Williams. Everyone must take three courses from each of the three divisions (Division I- languages and the arts; Division II- social sciences; Division III- science and mathematics) by the time they graduate.
Dividing up the fields in this manner allows students to choose classes that they will get the most out of. In high school one is forced to take classes that don’t necessarily appeal to one, or enhance one’s natural inclinations towards a particular area of study. College means the chance to explore all the different areas that interest one. Students shouldn’t be forced into taking classes that are only of interest to the educational agenda of some committee.
An intelligent individual will recognize the merits of a well-rounded education, and will therefore choose to take courses in all areas.
The division requirements at Williams help remind students of this fact, but don’t force anyone to take any particular class just for the sake of having a math class, or a science class, or an English class on their transcript. Imposing a core curriculum would not enhance the learning experiences available here at Williams. It is a privilege to have the freedom to choose one’s own paths here.
Core curriculums have tremendous potential to end up routine, mundane, and pointless to the students. They are just classes that take up time and energy that might be better spent elsewhere.
By the time one is 18 years old, one can decide for oneself what is necessary and right. People are always saying kids need to be taught how to think for themselves, but at the same time, they want to impose guidelines for what to study and how to study it. How does that help us learn to make choices, let alone wise choices? One can’t teach independent thinking.
Isn’t that kind of counter-intuitive? The only way people can learn to think for themselves is by doing so. We need to be allowed the freedom to make wise educational decisions and also to make some colossal mistakes. Williams College offers its students that opportunity. It would be criminal to remove that aspect of this college’s educational merits.