courtesy University of Tulsa

Block courses disadvantage arts and sciences students

block one and two courses cause more frustration and few transferrable skills for majors who must schedule classes that do not directly benefit their futures.

Students who major or double major in the college of arts and sciences face a dilemma every semester when choosing classes: they are required to take four block two classes, titled “Historical and Social Interpretation” and two block one classes, “Aesthetic Inquiry and Creative Expression.” These often include classes that count for their major and cannot be cross-listed as counting for the blocks. If someone has two majors that fall into the same category as block twos, their options are severely limited.

Out of the limited options, then, people can choose from subjects that at best are personally interesting to students and academically relevant, and at worst offer nothing that they cannot learn in their major classes and they chose because it was a class that fit into their schedule.

What can be learned from a block two? Theories on a subject that the student will never study, kinds of analysis that are common and they likely already use and how to skim the readings to get a sense for the meaning without investing undo time—a legitimate skill that students use in their major classes anyway in order to use their time efficiently. There are very few legitimately transferrable skills found in block twos.

This is not to say that block one and two classes are not worthwhile in their own right, only that they are not useful for everyone. For instance, they are not useful for people whose major requirements consist of the block classes offered. The process is needlessly frustrating and redundant.

The college of engineering and natural sciences does not require their students to take block threes, “Scientific Investigation.” These students do enough scientific investigation in their time here to avoid taking classes that are only tangentially related and extremely limited because they have to be different than the classes used for their major. The college of arts and sciences should take their cues from engineering and natural sciences and limit or stop requiring students to take block classes that do not include their major in the block one (which include classes for English, philosophy and other majors) or block two (political science, media studies and other majors).

Perhaps, if that is too much, the University of Tulsa could allow students to count block classes as both a block and major class if the class fulfills both of those requirements on paper. This solution respects students’ time and their chosen area of focus. After all, if students are willing to invest thousands of dollars and years of their life in their education, they might as well study the things that are useful to their future careers.

If students want to take miscellaneous classes, they can add a minor or take the class in their spare time in a semester. Students who willingly take these classes will be more passionate and invested in the course. They would not lose out on theories or learning strategies that they wouldn’t learn in their own major by not taking these block classes.

Block courses exist, in theory, to give students a more well-rounded education. In practice, that education is only stifled by the extra requirements. Arts and sciences would do students a service by using the same rules imposed on engineering and natural sciences students and lowering the block class requirements.

Post Author: Raven Fawcett