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'[OT] History and other useless college courses'
2009\06\19@202054 by Vitaliy

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solarwind wrote:
> I know what you mean. I am forced to take useless courses like history
> in my life sciences program.

I hope you're not being serious. I took Film and Psychology as part of my CE
degree, and don't consider either one a waste of my time.

Vitaliy

2009\06\19@212727 by solarwind

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On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 1:20 AM, Vitaliy<spam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTspammaksimov.org> wrote:
> I hope you're not being serious. I took Film and Psychology as part of my CE
> degree, and don't consider either one a waste of my time.

I am very much serious. You should not be forced to take such courses.
I'm going to be a doctor. Not a historian. If I want to learn history,
I'll do it in my own time. I would much rather be studying for a
biology test over a history test.

2009\06\19@212959 by solarwind

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On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 2:26 AM, solarwind<.....x.solarwind.xKILLspamspam@spam@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 1:20 AM, Vitaliy<spamspamKILLspammaksimov.org> wrote:
>> I hope you're not being serious. I took Film and Psychology as part of my CE
>> degree, and don't consider either one a waste of my time.
>
> I am very much serious. You should not be forced to take such courses.
> I'm going to be a doctor. Not a historian. If I want to learn history,
> I'll do it in my own time. I would much rather be studying for a
> biology test over a history test.

If I had my choice of course load, it would be something like this (in
no particular order):

biology
physics
chemistry
math
computer science
some electrical engineering course

2009\06\19@232116 by William \Chops\ Westfield

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On Jun 19, 2009, at 5:20 PM, Vitaliy wrote:

>> I know what you mean. I am forced to take useless courses like  
>> history in my life sciences program.
>
> I hope you're not being serious. I took Film and Psychology as part  
> of my CE degree, and don't consider either one a waste of my time.

In Penn's EE program we were require to take 7 semesters of "Social  
Science and Humanities" classes.  Note that certain popular classes  
(say, beginning latin) were deemed "too technical in nature" and  
didn't qualify.

IIRC, I had:

Russian History xxx
GH Psychology xxx (intro to Psych)
GH Psychology yyy (Vision.  Fascinating.)
History And Sociology 110: Science in Literature (science fiction!)
Communications xxx (visual communications.  Also fascinating.)
2 semesters worth of AP english credits.

BillW

2009\06\20@013340 by Sean Breheny

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Solarwind,

I understand your frustration, but life is about much more than just
one pursuit or one's job, and you should want to be a well-rounded
human being who also is a doctor. Not some kind of "robot" who is a
doctor and doesn't know anything else in any real depth. I know
already that you know much more than just biology, but I don't know
how much you know outside of the sciences. All of it is important. I
don't know if a university should "force" you to take humanities
courses, but I think they are well worth taking.

I'm probably going to open myself up to some stereotyping now, but I
have a rather interesting recent history involving studies. I
graduated from Cornell in 2001 with a BS in EE. I then got an MS in
Dynamics and Control Systems, also at Cornell. At this point, for a
variety of reasons beyond the scope of this thread, I actually put
engineering aside and went to a Catholic seminary to study for the
priesthood. In the process, I took all the major courses needed for a
second BA in Philosophy with a minor in Theology. I never got the
degree because there were side-requirements I didn't fulfill. I also
discovered that the priesthood was not for me and that I really did
want to do engineering (and I wanted to get married) - so I left that
program after two years. (The full program is usually six years and
gets you a doctoral-level degree, although much of the time and effort
is focused on things other than academics) Through a professor friend
I got my present job as an EE at Kiva Systems in 2005.

I am very grateful that I had this chance to spend two years studying
non-engineering stuff. For one thing, it has been immensely useful in
learning how to deal with people (both professionally and in my social
life).

Sean


On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 9:26 PM, solarwind <.....x.solarwind.xKILLspamspam.....gmail.com> wrote:
>
> On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 1:20 AM, Vitaliy<EraseMEspamspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTmaksimov.org> wrote:
> > I hope you're not being serious. I took Film and Psychology as part of my CE
> > degree, and don't consider either one a waste of my time.
>
> I am very much serious. You should not be forced to take such courses.
> I'm going to be a doctor. Not a historian. If I want to learn history,
> I'll do it in my own time. I would much rather be studying for a
> biology test over a history test.
> -

2009\06\20@015932 by William \Chops\ Westfield

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>> I'm going to be a doctor. Not a historian.

BTW, the history of medicine is pretty fascinating stuff.  I could  
envision a whole series of "technical humanities" classes would  
perhaps have the beneficial side effects that universities hope to  
instill in the engineering and science majors, while still holding the  
interests of the technically inclined types.  (after all, the sciences  
(and engineering to a lesser extent) certainly create "special"  
classes for non-majors (UPenn: Chem 11.  Nicknamed "Chemistry for  
Poets."))  I mentioned the Science Fiction, Vision, and Communications  
classes that I particularly liked at Penn, but I sorta suspect that I  
only got away with taking them because no one had noticed how  
"technical" they were.  (Not EASY, mind you.  For the SF class you  
were supposed to read at least 30 novels.  "Because that's how people  
who read SF read!")

BillW

2009\06\20@062116 by Vic Fraenckel

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This is an interesting discussion. My college undergraduate education
goes back to the late 1950s. I went to a small mid-west Liberal Arts
college and my major was Physics with a minor in Mathematics. There was
a requirement for xx (can't remember) course hours in the "Humanities"
including Philosophy, Language, History and Art. Computer Sci9ence did
not exist as a discipline in those days. I can't say I begrudge the
non-science/math courses.

I would be interested in hearing about "political indoctrination" that
may or may not have been noticeable in other's educational institutions.
I don't seem to remember anything like that in my time.

Vic
--

*____________________________________________________________________________________________*

*Victor Fraenckel
KC2GUI
windswaytoo ATSIGN gmail DOT com**

*

2009\06\20@233946 by Russell McMahon

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>> I hope you're not being serious. I took Film and Psychology as part of my
>> CE
>> degree, and don't consider either one a waste of my time.

> I am very much serious. You should not be forced to take such courses.
> I'm going to be a doctor. Not a historian. If I want to learn history,
> I'll do it in my own time. I would much rather be studying for a
> biology test over a history test.

This sort of conversation, repeated with variations a vast number of times
over the decades, is interesting as much in what it tells you about the
protagonists as about the courses.

I did a BE degree 'long ago' and and ME subsequently after having worked for
4 years. "Humanities" papers were added to the BE degree the year after I
graduated and they didn't seem to notice that they hadn't added them to the
ME degree at that stage. 'Back then' I would have tended to have had
something approximately like Solarwind's atif\tude - but I would have
considered biology only a shade above humanities, if at all, and I disliked
the organic chemistry paper that I had to do in my first BE year. History
was not something I would have wanted to study.

Since then (auld lang syne) I have become increasingly interested in a large
number of other areas that I would previously have shunned. I do not have
the time or resources to acquire in depth knowledge of biology but try and
keep nodding acquaintance with latest developments,m directions and
understanding. History 'as she is taught' is still not liable to be my
preferred topic.

But:

1. In some cases the people who set course and demand humanities content are
'just idiots' and it's 'just a watse of time' and they are 'just being PC'
and 'what would they know anyway?". BUT if youhave chosen an establishment
that youtrust to provide you a medical (in this case) education worthy of
your time and efforts THEN you may at least hope that they know whatv they
are about in the greater order of things. You may at least take a minute
moment to ponder twhether the peoplr thatv they are targeting are those who
most don't want what they are insisting on. They may (just maybe) perceivew
that the world's Solarwinds are too focused, too insular, too uncaring about
other matters and in need of having their mental filters readjusted
somewhat. They may even consider that almost anything that is going to force
them out of their focused rut is liable to be beneficial to them. And,
should they think any of this, they may possibly be correct. FWIW - from
what we have seen of you (SW) to date and your ability to learn and adapt
and expand (ie highly impressive after a rarther flaky start) then it's
quite likely that a small bit of wedging the door open against your desires
may make major beneficial changes in your life and education. and, if not,
the loss is small (a few boring lectures et al) compared to the potential
gans.

2.
- Somewhere along the line certain areas of history have commended
themselves to me and others, usually related, tug at their coat tails to be
allowed to access my brain.
I have dozens of books by or about the key 'players' in World War 2, and
related histories and commentaries and pre-material. I am not overly
interested in war for war's sakes, but have had an inexplicably increasing
interest in the events of that era. Reading books BY rather than ABOUT
Rommel, Kesselring, Guderian, Churchill, Raeder, Jones, Allen-Brooke, Popski
... and more helps to add useful perspective to books about these people and
surrounding events - and about others whose autobiographical works are less
or un available or which I haven't come across yet.
- I have about a dozen books on the history, and archeology (as opposed to
religious aspects) of the 'holy land' and Eastern mediterranean and find
that a knowledge of the context of the biblical accounts and of other
perspectives aids both value, enjoyment and understanding.
- Discovering, usually only in superficial detaiul, what lies historically
behind current international unrest is usually informative and interesting.
(Sudan, Middle East, Balkans, ...). (Interestingly, you can blame the well
intentioned Churchill for quite a lot of current problems :-) ).

All of which supports SW's "If Iwanted to learn history ...", but makes me
wonder where my enquiries would have gone if somebody had forced a history
data-dump on me earlier on.

- I'm only (as happenstance provides) becoming aware of the many other
currents in world history that shape what we see today. Those who have no
idea of the basis for the current country boundaries, ruling families and
past events of the Middle East, and of the past role of "The English" (THE
world super power of yore) and of the more recent roles of  the US will both
remain puzzled by current events and unaware of what changes need to be made
if there is any hope of 'things being better' in future.

_________

History has its place.
Being compelled to do a degree in it may be a bit much.
Being compelled to do a paper can be taken as an opportunity.


         Russell






2009\06\22@041313 by Alan B. Pearce

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> I know what you mean. I am forced to take useless courses like history
> in my life sciences program.

Oh, so knowing how cholera was discovered, or how to immunise against small
pox are not important parts of history?

Or how Captain Cook overcame the problems of scurvy, or the way epidemics
were handled by various armies over the course of history?

And so it goes on ... doing anything serious in this life requires a broad
brush knowledge of what has gone before over a wide subject range ...

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