Questioning the purpose of Core 140 and 145

Madeleine Kobes — Staff Writer

Some of the most dreaded classes at Dordt University are Core 140: Roots of Western Worldview and Core 145: Modern Western Culture. Core requirements that nearly every student who attends Dordt must take, many students dislike these courses. With the added stress of the exams and papers, some might wonder if the classes are worthwhile or why students are required to take them.

There are many reasons students complain about Core 140 and 145. For many, the classes seem unrelated to their major. Students wonder how the history of ancient people relates to their futures as nurses, engineers, or elementary school teachers. It can seem removed and unrelated to the rest of life.

Even for those who enjoyed the class, there is a large amount of pressure due to the tests, readings, and papers. Each class has only two or three exams, so there is little opportunity to make up points.

“It is hard to get all my thoughts down accurately on the tests,” sophomore Truman Clark said. “Because I feel pressured by the time limit and I feel like I’m not going to be able to get everything down.”

Many students struggle with the fact that their GPAs might decrease because of a Core class — especially students who are not majoring in the humanities and do not think Core 140 and 145 will impact their future in any way.

Another reason many students dread Core 140 and 145 is the papers. In Core 140, students are required to dissect the writings of Plato and Augustine, determine their worldviews, and write a paper comparing them. Even people who have read these texts in the past do not fully understand them. It seems extreme to expect a freshman student to accurately grasp and explain the nuance of Plato’s beliefs, and compare it to Augustine’s Christian perspective.

Some students are interested in history, and find the content of the classes interesting. However, the stress of the classes turns them off from history. People end up associating history with the stress of the class, and grow to dislike history. Although they might learn and benefit from the classes if they tried, many students simply do not care enough to put in effort and improve.

However, the question must be raised if these questions are problems with the classes themselves, or with the effort of the students. I think all of us can admit that we generally do not care about Core classes, and unless it relates to our major, we do not care about actual learning.

But the class was “a chance to expand my ability to write papers,” Clark said.

There are benefits to the requirements of Core 140 and 145, such as learning to write papers. Although the readings are difficult, students who actually do the reading and work to understand it will gain critical thinking, writing, and other skills that are important later in life. But for other students, no matter how hard they try, understanding philosophy will never be easy or possible, and it can be difficult to memorize many names and events throughout history.

That being said, just because a class is difficult does not mean it is not worthwhile. The Core 140 and 145 classes are intended to shape students’ worldview and make them understand how history impacts the way people think today. However, the structure of the classes makes it difficult.

“The courses make people frustrated. I think they could be more relatable and enjoyable,” Isabel Boer, a Dordt student and tutor for Core 140 and 145, said. “A lot of students find the classes really stressful. They’re worried about failing the class, but they should be able to focus on learning the content.”

Photo credit: Dordt University

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