It is both heart-warming and disturbing that so many of you are so cynical. I refer of course to the results of the pop quiz on Tuesday, in which I asked readers to guess which listed item was not a real criterion for a physical science course to be approved as a general education requirement.
I must confess that the quiz was a bit of a trick question because I took information from several universities and melded and merged and modified a bit, but without changing the core of the various criteria I found.. with one exception that I modified a bit more than the others.
Perhaps the most deeply cynical among you will be gladdened to know that #1 (The course must deepen a student's understanding of how physical phenomena involving non-living matter and processes can be investigated by the scientific method through the development of hypotheses that can be tested by observation or experiment) is a real criterion at some universities.
Whatever joy you may find in this knowledge may, however, be destroyed when you learn that the active learning criterion (#3) was not fabricated.
And it will likely not surprise you, given the rant at the beginning of Tuesday's post, that #4 is real (Phenomena to be investigated must explicitly involve the interactions of humans with the physical world and its non-living constituents).
I really wish I could tell you that #5 and #6 were made up. I think #5 is weird (The course must explore the limitations of science and scientists, and how these limitations impact public policy issues of regional or global significance). It could be fairly harmless, or it could be 'code' for requiring science professors to reveal to students to that scientists don't know everything.. or at least, that they don't know everything about Certain Topics.
I despise criterion #6: Students in this course must learn that scientific problems can only be successfully solved within the context of the ethics of a particular society. It pains me that someone somewhere on some committee really believes that and thinks it is a sane and appropriate criterion for any course at any university.
Although criterion #2 may exist at some university beyond the scope of my limited research into this topic, I did in fact make it up: Physical phenomena to be investigated must be of major significance. Highly specialized topics of primary interest only to scientists are unlikely to be approved.
It sounds like it could be real, though, doesn't it? I would not be too disturbed if a committee somewhere had concerns about professors blathering on about their obscure research specialty (although I am quite sure that almost never occurs in general ed science classes), especially since one can debate the concept of 'major significance'. Innocuous fake criterion #2, however, pales in comparison to some of the evil criteria further down the list.
2 months ago