Basic Models of General Education
Excerpted from "GENERAL EDUCATION REFORM AS ORGANIZATIONAL
CHANGE: INTEGRATING CULTURAL AND STRUCTURAL CHANGE"
Effective Citizen Model
An ideally educated person in the effective citizen model of general education is someone who is familiar with the important ideas and discoveries of the disciplines and who also understands their relationship to and implications for society. The effective citizen model focuses on the student and what the student should learn in order to live well and engage fully in society. Its major advantage is the combined focus on understanding
important ideas and approaches of the disciplines and their social implications: it makes relevancy pivotal. This model is becoming more prevalent because of its focus on student learning. According to Newton, there are two roots of the effective citizen model. The
first grows out of the assessment movement and the desire for accountability through student learning outcomes. It is based on development of the competencies needed to become a productive member of society. The other stems from the philosophy of John Dewey, which links theory and practice. It is based on learning the competencies needed to lead societal change.
The major criticism of the effective citizen model has been how it has been implemented. In many cases, programs teach only about the disciplines rather than rigorously teaching the substance of the disciplines. The effective citizen model is designed to develop values and teach skills in addition to knowledge. This has raised fears among adherents of the discipline-based model that only one particular set of values will be taught. Within the Western intellectual
tradition that underlies the discipline-based model there is also a separation between theory and practice, where practice is seen as a more base pursuit. Skills equate to practice and applied knowledge is seen, in this view, as a lesser form of education. Thus, the emphasis on relevance in the effective citizen model is seen as suspect by many adherents of the discipline-based model of general education.