Education Beyond the Major
If a student at West Chester University is majoring in physics, then why should they have to take an art class. It would seem to be a waste of time, unless there is a justified reason. Students seem to moan at the thought of taking a class they don’t feel is necessary to their degree, but in reality it could help them in the long run. Walker Percy is an author who talks about these topics of education in his passage called The Loss of the Creature. Even though Percy never directly writes it down, he is pushing this message of education beyond a students major. West Chester is no exception. Most of the students time at West Chester University are spent outside their major because it helps them learn indirectly through mistakes, challenges them in ways they aren’t used to or familiar with, helps them find weaknesses to fix and puts them in unfamiliar situations.
Humans learn from their mistakes than from their successes; because of this, students should take courses beyond their major in order to increase their opportunities to productively make mistakes. When a business major takes a public speaking course they might fail because they aren’t used to speaking in front of large groups or have stage fright, but from that “F” they received off of a project comes learning and understanding. One day they might have to present a sales pitch in front of their boss and this time they won’t mess up. In Greek mythology a phoenix is a bird who once is dead, will be reborn better than before. There is a saying that in order to succeed in life you have to fail first. A physics major might find math and science easy, but when you give them a paint brush they might struggle. Percy says, “If the failures are “wrong” enough, as these are, they might still be turned to account as rueful conversation pieces”(Percy 3). This means that just because you fail doesn’t mean you are a failure. The art class is going to be a different type of hard for the physics major student, which will help them deal with situations like that for the future. Taking classes outside of the major prepares the student to not learn the material, but knowing how to deal with situations they are not used too. At West Chester, students need to take more classes to they are not used to open them up to failure and from that failure comes success and knowledge. Without these courses outside of the students major, the student might not be challenged enough to learn.
When a student is used to a certain type of learning from the same subject and gets thrown into a new environment and type of teaching it can be challenging for them in ways they aren’t used too. The student who majors in math can struggle trying to write a paper. It challenges them to use a different part of the brain they aren’t used to using. It almost forces them to adapt to new obstacles which can help everyone. The content does not have to be hard, it can just be a different way of learning that is difficult. Percy says, “The great difficulty is that he is not aware that there is a difficulty”(Percy 4). This means that people should always expect and prepare for the worst but hope for the best. When that physics student walks into that art class with a bad attitude then they are going to end up with a bad grade. If someone thinks lightly of any class then they are going to be surprised with the difficulty level compared to if they prepared properly. All students fall to this statement at some point in their educational career. Every student is not perfect in every subject and in every class. The reason to take classes outside of the major is to find those weaknesses and work/fix them.
Every student has a weakness. It could be anything as small as they can’t tie their own shoes, to a big as they can’t study for more than a minute. A lot of students have bullshitted their way through high school. They never studied or tried because they didn’t have too. They never challenged themselves by always taking easier classes. I also take fault. If someone never failed, then how can they fix or improve upon the past. No struggle means no improvement. At West Chester University students are forced into these classes they need to study for and that is a defining time in every students life. It shows the students true colors and work ethic by throwing them into a class they aren’t used too. For the students who then fail those classes, they need to take a look at themselves and fix their mistakes. For the students who flourish in these classes, they should feel pleased about there work/study habits. Percy has his own opinions on education that are unique and unlike most. Although, he would agree with the statement that people would become better students if they succeed and overcome classes they didn’t want to take or thought were to hard to take. No one likes being put outside of their comfort and especially at school while paying lots of money.
Being put in an unfamiliar situation is tough for people. Maybe you are by yourself and don’t know anyone or you’re lost and and can’t ask for help. These situations are anxiety endorsing for most people. The first day for West Chester is set up to help the freshmen because there are no upperclassmen, but it’s still tough being in a new and unfamiliar place. Once classes start all hell breaks loose. Students now have the most freedom they have ever felt in their lives and are also the most scared they have ever been. Taking hard and new classes are already enough pressure for students. Percy feels that most learning happens outside the classroom. If a group project is assigned for homework then that forces students to go beyond their comfort zone. Even if they are researching an insignificant topic they are still learning and improving their research skills. A math major working with an art major may come up with some new and interesting ideas never thought of all just because people in both majors required the same class. Taking different classes outside of a major is a great way of getting comfortable with people unlike yourself.
Most of the students time at West Chester University are spent outside their major because it helps them learn indirectly through mistakes, challenges them in ways they aren’t used to or familiar with, helps them find weaknesses to fix and puts them in unfamiliar situations. Learning through mistakes is a great way to improve upon the past. Challenging yourself can help you overcome obstacles. Finding your weaknesses is a great way to get better at school. Being put in unfamiliar situations can help you learn new things about yourself. Most students don’t understand why they are taking the classes they are enrolled in, but some of those classes can actually be more important than the ones that correspond with there own major.