Incomplete Experience

Temple’s GenEd program should require a class on Philadelphia’s history.

Temple’s new general education curriculum promises to envelop freshmen in local arts and culture, but the structure of the program fails to push students into Philadelphia.

Temple is not afraid to tell students what they should know. Courses in one’s major are not enough to graduate: a litany of core classes covering everything from racism to mathematics to the history of Western thought are required of us.

The GenEd curriculum continues in that vein by pushing the Philadelphia Experience. Temple’s Web site describes this experience as a way to blend local exposure with the academic content of GenEd classes.

For this, Temple deserves recognition. There are 34 classes that are listed as part of the Philadelphia Experience. This is a healthy serving of Philadelphia for anyone who is looking for it.

The problem is that there are almost 100 GenEd classes available. Any student who doesn’t particularly care to learn about Philadelphia doesn’t have to. Temple can do better than this.

Students do not have a choice as to whether they will study race or ancient texts, and rightly so.

Temple realizes that the various topics covered under core requirements, and now GenEd classes, are vital to a well-rounded education.

Temple does not seem to carry the same attitude about Philadelphia. Instead of requiring a course about Philadelphia, it only offers the courses for those who want them. If students want to learn about their adopted city, they will do so, whether they are given a class on it or not.

Temple should require at least one class on Philadelphia for all those students who wouldn’t otherwise take one. Just like it is necessary to study race, it is necessary to educate Temple students about Philadelphia.

The class could teach Philadelphia’s history and neighborhoods. Not only would it help students understand why the city is the way it is, but how to improve on what is good, and fix what has gone wrong.

Temple graduates will be that much better equipped to take on the problems that face this city if they know where the problems came from.

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