Let’s start then with the college catalog. When was the last time you opened one? These several hundred page doorstops, students are told, make up a veritable intellectual adventure. A little French Literature of the 19th Century here, a little Animal Behavior there. Throw in a statistics class and an introduction to gender studies and you have . . . well, what do you have? No one quite knows because most college curricula today are completely incoherent.
Once colleges did away with any kind of real general-education requirements, students were left on their own to figure out what they thought was important. It sounds so exciting, until you realize that 18-year-olds don’t know what they don’t know. And they don’t know what’s going to be important to them later on. And they don’t know even know which classes should go before other classes.
The catalogs only provided the illusion of choice anyway. Some of the thousands of listed classes will provide them with the critical thinking skills and real knowledge they need to succeed afterward, but most of them will not. Just think of it as high-stakes gambling with a few hundred-thousand dollars worth of tuition.
How did this intellectually incoherent curriculum take hold?