General education: Not just something to “get out of the way”
May 9th, 2013 | Dr. Joy Qualls
If there is a dreaded subject to the college student, it may very well be “general education.” Generals, as they were often called when I was a student, were classes you were “forced” to take in order to get your degree and often students did whatever they could to “get them out of the way” so they could get to their “real” classes in their majors and/or minors. I was one of those students. What I did not expect when taking general education classes was that the foundation of who I was becoming was being formed in those classes as much if not more than in my major related courses. Let me explain.
I knew what God had called me to in terms of study. I had a passion for those subjects and couldn’t wait to jump into that material. My general education classes required me to step outside of my comfort zone, my personal interests, and sometimes my motivation level.
I, too, spoke those dreaded words, “When am I ever going to use THIS?” What I didn’t know was what I didn’t know.
I didn’t know that studying sociology would give me a perspective on human behavior and social structures that would help me formulate discussions among constituent groups in my role as a staffer in the United States Senate. I didn’t know that biology would help me understand what the doctor was explaining to my husband and me when we received some rather frightening news about our unborn baby. I didn’t know that art and music would give me a perspective on the world that would attract the guy with season tickets to the opera to one day become the man I would spend the rest of my life with in marriage.
What I didn’t know is just how much those “generals” would take on specific meaning in different areas of my life and how God would use those classes to form me and shape me into who He wanted me to be.
At Evangel, our general education courses are unique. It is not a cafeteria of random classes that students arbitrarily select to feed our education requirements. Rather, our general education has been designed and structured around the central principles of what the Evangel experience is and who we are a community. At the center of the courses is our commitment to the integration of faith and learning (not just praying before class starts, but seeing who God is and his relationship with us) as well as a variety of subject areas that on the surface may appear to be distinct, but which all play a role together to form who we are as people, as a church, and as a society.
Part of why I choose to spend my career at Evangel is because of the distinctive nature of this community and our curriculum reflects this distinction. Rather than looking at general education as something to “get out of the way” we believe every aspect of your time here at Evangel is distinct and you never know — God may just use that “general” in a way you never expect.