TCCTA and CHE take on Chancellor Bruce Leslie’s core curriculum boondoggle

The Texas Community College Teachers Association and the Chronicle of Higher Education have also taken an interest in Chancellor Leslie’s EDUC 1300 core course.

TCCTA: Of “Seven Habits” and Aristotle

For purposes of discussion only, let’s try to put aside for a moment the issue of the Texas core curriculum and the agonizing decisions now taking place around the state. Let’s do the same for the diminishing role of trained faculty in choosing the best materials for their students. (These set-asides are tough. “Well, except for THAT, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”)

Self-help books are not the real problem, either. It’s undoubtedly what Aristotle had in mind. Benjamin Franklin had the same goal (plus making money), and Machiavelli’s The Prince was intended as a handy pamphlet for political leadership.

Certainly, win-win deserves a prize for sheer numb-skullery, and you can already detect faculty indignation on campuses around the country, thanks to the Chronicle article. The collected works of “Duck Dynasty” and “Honey Boo Boo” can be seen in sarcastic splendor on the curricular horizon.

However, perhaps the main reason Seven Habits is so galling to academically-trained instructors has to do with what it may symbolize. It would be hard to choose a book more emblematic of the corporate culture’s long, clumsy tentacles, reaching into colleges and universities, plucking suspicious materials that won’t directly train employees.

CHE: In curricular clashes, completion can vie with quality (SAC faculty, students and staff can access their library’s CHE subscription online.)

But faculty members fear that the course based on Mr. Covey’s book will crowd out courses in which students might also read Plato or Immanuel Kant.

Getting through Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is tough even for talented students, said Charles C. Hinkley, a professor of philosophy at Northwest Vista College, which is part of Alamo Colleges. They will find Mr. Covey’s book to be far less rigorous, he said.

Mr. Covey’s book explores ideas like finding ways to reach agreement that confer mutual benefit, or what he refers to as a “win-win.” It’s a facile notion, Mr. Hinkley said. After all, what do you do when resources are limited?

“Part of what’s great about the core curriculum is that it’s challenging to you as a person,” he said. “Seven Habits is a bunch of platitudes.”


One comment

  1. I Teach Philosophy as well and agree with Professor Hinkley. As a matter of fact some of the pithy says and observations just DO agree with great thinkers; however, there is zero justification, application, or measuring the depths of the necessary reorientation of personal perspective(s).

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