Cracking the core

Discover New York, two English classes, history, science, three philosophies, three theologies, speech- the list goes on depending on your particular major. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the all too familiar core curriculum or the mandatory classes that all St. John’s students are required to take in order to graduate.

The core adds up to a total of 27 credits that many students probably have no clue why they have to take except for the fact that once completed, they are 27 credits closer to graduation.

According to the St. John’s website, “The core curriculum embodies the three key elements of the mission statement that St. John’s is a Catholic, Vincentian, and Metropolitan University.” The purpose of the core curriculum courses is to provide students with a unified educational experience which characterizes St. John’s students, providing them with the knowledge and skills to become educated members of society.”

What will learning about determinism in philosophy or what happens to molten rock in cold climates in earth science do to help me become an educated member of society?

“The core is basically a repeat of subjects we learned in high school,” said senior Education major Saleem Clarke. “The purpose of coming to college is to become experts in that field.”

The core curriculum is not indicative of St. John’s University. Many schools have implemented a core curriculum to ensure that all students receive the same knowledge base before proceeding to study the specificities of their major.

The concern is not whether or not the core curriculum actually gives St. John’s students a unified education. The question is, are students actually learning from these classes?

One class that is under fire is Discover New York, a course that is supposed to introduce freshmen to New York City by exploring different aspects of art, literature, and even cuisine. Yet many students have complained that they do not do anything in their Discover New York classes.

Since many students are from the Tri-state area, they know pretty much all they need to know about city life. Marissa Hall, an education major from Long Island does not believe in the Discover New York class, “I think we shouldn’t have to take Discover New York because the teachers don’t teach anything new about New York that I don’t already know.”

Although some Discover New York classes offer students many opportunities to do things outside of the classroom and explore New York City, few have taken advantage of those opportunities and this is unnecessary.

The core curriculum has its advantages and disadvantages.

One advantage is that it gives students that are coming in undecided a chance to become exposed to what St. John’s has to offer. The core buys time for freshmen to decide what they are going to study.

Whether or not one thinks the core curriculum is valuable to the St. John’s experience, it looks like it is here to stay.