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With the demise of the language
requirement, Core stands as the only
all-college academic requirement. Moreover,
as a result of Jefferson House even Core is not
genuinely an all-college requirement.
In this unique position the Core curriculum
is likely to experience increasing demands for
reform or abolition. In the past our Core
planners have met criticism with token
reforms cunningly packaged to appear radical
or at least innovative. Probably the only Core
innovations of the past five years of any
significance were Core Science and "Area
Studies." Various other tampering with the
Core curriculum has occurred but this has
mostly resulted in the facelifting of old
I believe that, in order for Core to a viable
part of the FPC curriculum, all of the
following untested assumptions of the Core
program must be carefully considered:
1.That Core can be planned and taught
without a fairly precise and meaningful
statement of purpose.
2. That Core classes must be segregated by
3. That a small number of faculty must
determine the reading material for a
large number of students.
4. That books are chosen to fit discussion
topics rather than the opposite.
5. That lectures are a valuable aspect of
The purpose of Core, I believe, should be
to allow students to intensively study one
area le.g. culture, Asia, Latin America-social
problems, racism, environment-art, graphics,
photography, etc.l for one semester only. All
these subjects could be taught as regular
courses, but as Core courses they would be
designed for non-majors who don't have the
time to pursue the subject further but who
are definitely interested in being exposed to
the study area. I question the paradox of
formulating a "centraI theme" each semester
then asking each discussion group to adhere
to the theme and simultaneously have its own
unique experience. In the past the central
theme has seemed far too contrived. I
therefore suggest its de-emphasis.
A second purpose of Core which I would
advocate is the acquisition of communication
skills. It has been my experience that some
students are graduated from FPC barely able
to write coherently or speak articulately on a
given theme, while others are bored by
writing numerous papers for Core and sitting
through lengthy discussions.
I suggest the collection of all written work
of each student in the Core office. This would
allow professors who had never had a certain
student in his classes before to determine
what writing skills the student has developed
and whether or not it would be worthwhile to
continue to require writing exercises li.e. term
papers, etc.l to improve his ability to
communicate. It would also enable the
professor to determine whether the student
did "creative projects" as an exercise in
creativity or as a dodge from a task which he
was not competent to perform.
As a concomitant of de-emphasizing
"central themes" it would be valuable or
perhaps even necessary to allow students of
all four grade-levels to participate in all
project groups. I see no reason for segregating
Core by grade-levels or, especially, treating
Seniors as a group which needs special
arrangements for Core.
There is one aspect of the "central theme"
which may have some merit, viz. Core reading
lists. Many educators land studentsl recognize
the value of reading widely during the
undergraduate years material which is not
necessarily correlated with any course work.
If Core is to continue requiring certain
reading for all students, I suggest the
formulation of a Core reading list of
approximately 75100 books. This would not
be the equivalent of a list of "great books"
but, instead, would reflect our Core
professors' opinion of what readings would be
particularly valuable land hopefully
interestingl to Core students. This list could
be relatively easily formulated by collecting
ballots from all Core professors and could be
annually revised by the same method. With a
reading list such as this, Core students could
be required to read a certain number of books
each semester or have completed a certain
percentage of the list by the end of the Senior
year. This would eliminate the somewhat
capricious reading selections which a small
number of planners is likely to make. There
seems to be no evidence that it is valuable for
all students to be reading the same book at
the same time.
Finally, I would like to raise the issue of
Core presentations. Nlost members of the
college community place a high value on films
as a pedagogical tool. For this reason I think
that the Core cinema series should be
However, as to the other prominent mode
of presentation, the lecture, a great deal of
investigation should take place. Questions
should be raised such as: Why give a lecture
which reviews something already presented in
Core readings? Why give a lecture simply
because it is that time of the week and a
lecture is on the schedule? Why present a
lecture orally? Why not print copies of the
lecture and distribute it, thus saving
everyone's time and enabling the student to
review the entire lecture rather than scanty
Core has been, at times, a valuable part of
the FPC curriculum. With a greater willingness
to question some of our basic assumptions
Core can continue to be a valuable
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