General Education

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In order to know what the Harvard Report means by general education, I should start with a definition summarized from the different parts of the report. In terms of the Harvard report, I think general education is a system of higher education designed to foster in students the desire and capacity to learn, think critically, and communicate proficiently with both nature and society, and also to function as engaged citizens. It is distinguished by a flexible curriculum that allows for student choice and demands breadth and depth of study as well, and by a student-centered pedagogy that is interactive and requires students to engage directly with critical texts and activity within and outside of the classroom.

General education, also named liberal education, I think, is a comprehensive “package”. How can we bring this package into the traditional curriculum? For example, a teacher can reflect liberal educational pedagogy by using interactive teaching methods, but he/she might be isolated within his/her institution and constrained by a traditional curriculum. Similarly, a curriculum can have liberal elements, such as choice of classes for both teachers and students. That is, the curriculum is sufficiently flexible that students have substantial ways to choose courses that they will take, and it offers students the possibility to choose an area of “academic concentration” (which is the way the report called it. We call it a “major”.) After they have entered their higher educational institution. In short, according to the Report, the central tenet of general education is that it is more concerned with the development of the individual than the preparation of the student for a specific vocation. The researchers instill liberal elements in the traditional education system for shaping citizens who are capable of being active participants in democratic society, such as the United Sates and Hong Kong, but it is a pity, not in Macau.

The report and the points made...
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