Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Date



Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science


Dordt College, general education, educational change, values


General education is one of those things that everyone knows how to fix but no one is able to do anything about. Woodrow Wilson’s comment about changing the college curriculum, made while he was president of Princeton University, is particularly apt of general education: reforming it “is as difficult as moving a graveyard.” Committees can study the issue for ages and make numerous erudite reports, but when all is said and done, more is said than done. Many reforms meet the standard voiced by Groucho Marx: “there is less here than meets the eye.” It is far easier to resist change and maintain the status quo than to build a consensus about what to do. The cause of this inertia is plain to administrators: getting faculty to collaborate on anything substantial is like herding cats. Faculty are professionally trained to be competitive, autonomous thinkers. While they may be experts in their own narrow fields of specialization, they are often ignorant of broader issues, educational or otherwise, and do not know how to take decisive action or act in concert with others.


This talk was presented at the Fall Faculty Lecture Series sponsored by the General Education Committee on November 7, 1994, on the campus of Dordt College.