Basic Models of General Education
Excerpted from "GENERAL EDUCATION REFORM AS ORGANIZATIONAL
CHANGE: INTEGRATING CULTURAL AND STRUCTURAL CHANGE"
Great Books Model
The great books model defines an ideally educated person as someone who is familiar with classic works and who has struggled with fundamental questions of human existence. This model strives to provide a context within which students confront fundamental
questions of life, the perennial questions of humanity. These questions are introduced through “in-depth historical review of the works of thinkers whose ideas changed human history” (170).*
Criticisms of this model include the lack of attention to current knowledge and the heated debate over what the canon should contain in order for it to represent cultural heritage. This model focuses on the unity of knowledge within a single framework, and those who take issue with this model point to its lack of diverse voices. The beliefs that underlie the great books model include the importance of introducing students to questions that transcend the disciplines and integrating
knowledge through discussion of fundamental questions viewed from the perspective of Western civilization.