As the clock nears 2:50, I hurry across Cook Field. With my backpack on and phone in hand, I hustle into a crowded lecture hall full of students that are thoroughly disappointed class hasn't been cancelled - even more disappointed that we have an in-class assignment due for points that day. I take my seat toward the back, right next to my friend who does his other homework in class and the girl who shops for what dress she will wear to her next date party.
Our professor hurries in just before class officially begins and pulls up her black and white PowerPoint. She begins, discussing the components of the cell and the differences between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The students don't pound away at their keyboards when she changes topics, but only when they receive an iMessage notification. The few times they look up are when she turns off the lights without warning to show us a close-up picture.
Among the group there are students who ask questions and participate, but the majority simply do not care. They are taking the class pass/fail and have better things to do than care about how the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Yet, it's not just this science class that is like this; last semester during my English 111 class, I was one of these students. Actually, I finished playing the entirety of Pokemon Emerald while we learned about what a research paper was and how to correctly cite sources.
We came here for a liberal education - to be students who were not just proficient in our major, but well-rounded in all areas of academia. However, the result of that is that we often must take classes that we don't care about. There is a specific list of classes available, and after countless searches on Rate My Professor and looking at the grade distribution, the easiest classes are always in high demand.
While learning new things and branching out sounds like a great idea, its execution results in the learning of an entirely different skill - how to do the bare minimum and still get by. The hours spent in required Miami plan classes could be spent in classes that interest us. I don't know about others, but the classes I do the best in are the ones I am curious about. Curiosity is one of the greatest motivators, and if we are forced to take courses that don't speak to our passions, what is the point?
Yes, there will probably always be classes that help boost the good ole GPA so we can get better internships or better jobs, but what if the idea of a liberal education was redefined? Instead of taking two science courses, two global perspective, one fine arts and so on, we just took classes outside of our majors that sparked our interest. Instead of double-dipping to get done with Miami Plan as soon as possible, students would be excited to go to as many different classes as possible and learn about whatever they are truly passionate about.
We shouldn't just be crossing required classes off a finite list, but trying to gain infinite knowledge about the topics most important to us. Just how we chase jobs we truly want after college, we should be chasing the classes we truly want as well.
So, instead of being packed in a lecture hall with online shoppers, texters and game players, we should strive to be in classes where each and every student is engaged and passionate about the topic at hand. While yes, the mitochondria will always be the powerhouse of the cell, curiosity will always the powerhouse of success.