Opportunities on campus are rewarding

David Taintor

As spring break approaches and the scramble to get things done before a needed break, have you ever wondered why you take certain classes to earn your degree?

Does it ever cross your mind with the question, “When the ____ am I going to use this?” Such thinking is not uncommon and can vary from those times you’re at McIntyre Library being awakened by the librarian because it’s closing time or when you’re pulling an allnighter studying for that midterm while your friends are out.

What is the goal of a UW-Eau Claire undergraduate education?

It is interesting to note that when I started here at Eau Claire in the fall of 2006, there were 11 goals for the undergraduate liberal education. And now that has been changed this past December to five.

Are we learning less than before?

I think the answer to this is how you define curriculum. To arrive at this definition is not as straight forward as making those flight plans to Cancun.

If you ask 10 different professors this, you will probably get 10 different answers.

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines curriculum as “the courses offered by an educational institution.”

Does that mean that curriculum is only offered through courses?

What about other things you learn, such as getting gas in the car before the light comes on or locking both your bike frame and tire and not just your tire? For this reason, I think the above definition of curriculum is too narrow.

As a student with interest in teaching middle school students, I believe the middle school philosophy definition of curriculum.

According to the National Middle School Association position paper entitled “This We Believe,” curriculum “embraces every planned aspect of a school’s educational program. It includes those specific classes designed to advance skills and knowledge as well as school-wide services and programs such as guidance, clubs and interest groups, music and drama productions, student government, sports, and service learning experiences.”

According to the Middle Level Curriculum Project, a responsive curriculum is living and evolving and should be viewed within the framework of all experiences provided by the educational community. I think if you define curriculum as such, your view of what you learn and why you learn things changes. Instead of wondering when you are going to use stuff, you are wondering how you can apply stuff learned.

Thinking in these terms creates an awareness of your own analysis and construction of learning.

So are we learning less than before with an Eau Claire education?

I’ll give that often-expressed answer from the professors – it depends.

If you set your goals to know “just the facts” from courses, the answer could be yes, if you define “education” from the 11 goals to five for an undergraduate liberal education.

If you view your goals as to explain, construct and apply all the things you learn from your time at Eau Claire, then the answer is no.

I am a non-traditional student with a degree from UW-Madison.

The amount of activities to explore, construct and apply concepts learned in or outside of the classroom here is more than what I have experienced at Madison.

This is what makes the experience here so unique.

So the Eau Claire education is what you choose to make of it.

With all the opportunities on campus and throughout Eau Claire, the reward of a quality education will last a lifetime. And it makes those all-nighters less painful.

Kaszubowski is a senior math major and guest columnist for The Spectator.