The subject matter of the Liberal Studies Program is based on a conception of a well-educated person, and focuses on significant ideas, structures and values within its various disciplines. Coursework throughout the program emphasizes the study of broad concepts and principles that encompass and illuminate the areas of human learning. Central tenets of our academic program are:
Liberal Studies Objectives
- Coursework in the program contains the critical structures, intellectual foundations, ideas, and elements of the disciplines being investigated.
- Students encounter and learn to recognize the values and attitudes that drive the disciplines being studied. (Examples of such values and attitudes include respect for evidence, openness to alternatives, tolerance for divergence, and recognition of the intrinsic importance of knowledge.)
Although the Liberal Studies program is not designed exclusively as academic preparation for students who plan to teach in the elementary schools, it fosters knowledge and understanding of the academic subjects that are commonly taught in elementary schools: language, literature, mathematics, science, social science, history, the visual and performing arts, and physical education. . In an elementary classroom, the progress of students in learning the subjects of the curriculum depends greatly on the teacherís knowledge of those subjects.
- Study in language includes literature, composition, foreign language, language acquisition, and speech, and is conceived as an integral process for developing and mastering communication skills.
- Study in mathematics develops and builds upon knowledge of fundamental mathematical concepts and relationships, and problem solving abilities.
- Study in science includes biological science, earth and space science, and physical science, and includes examination and use of scientific methods.
- Study in history and the social sciences includes world history and culture, geography, political science, and psychology.
- Study in the visual and performing arts includes such areas as painting, sculpture, architecture, music, drama, and dance, and includes production, history, aesthetics, and criticism.
- Study of physical education includes movement skills and forms (including dance), exercise physiology, self-image, and social aspects.
The following clarifies these objectives in greater detail:
The standards students use to measure their subject matter competencies are based on the goals of the English-Language Arts Framework, the Mathematics Framework, the Science Framework, the History-Social Science Framework, and the Visual and Performing Arts Framework for California Public Schools Kindergarten through Grade Twelve. The following statements describe the competent individual for each subject area and are used as standards for measuring subject matter competency
- A person competent in English language arts must be an equally skilled listener, speaker, reader and writer. One must have a broad knowledge of core literary works from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. One must be able to effectively communicate ideas orally and through writing. One must have an understanding about and a working knowledge of grammar, word usage, spelling, punctuation, diction, syntax and style. One must be able to use these skills effectively in thinking critically, solving problems and making decisions.
- A person competent in mathematics must be able to discern mathematical relationships, reason logically, and use mathematical techniques effectively. One must have a working knowledge of the different mathematical areas: number, measurement, geometry, pattern and function, statistics and probability, logic and algebra. One must be able to explain these functions and their relationship to each other.
- A person competent in science must have a general understanding of knowledge in these three areas of science: (a) Physical science including concepts of matter, reactions, interactions, force and motion, and energy in its different manifestations; (b) Earth science including concepts from astronomy, geology, natural resources, meteorology, and oceanography; (c) Life science including characteristics of living things, concepts from genetics and evolution theory, and the nature of ecosystems
- A person competent in history-social science must have an understanding and working knowledge in these three important areas: (a) Knowledge and cultural understanding including historical, ethical, cultural, geographic, economic, socio-political literacy; (b) Democratic understanding and civil values including national identity, constitutional heritage, civil values, rights and responsibilities; (c) Skills attainment and social participation including basic study, critical thinking, and participation skills. One must have a fairly broad background and knowledge of different cultures, countries, and the things that make up such cultures and countries. One must have an accurate understanding of the goals and beliefs of the founding fathers of the United States. One must have an understanding of the society and its functions, and the relationship of people within society.
- A person competent in the humanities has the ability to examine and evaluate discourses on the human condition. One must be able to comprehend a wide range of experience and diverse vision of human life and self-understanding. One must understand the development of human values and the role they play in the decision people make and in the responsibility they take for those decisions.
- A person competent in visual and performing arts must be educated in aesthetic perception, creative expression, arts heritage, and aesthetic valuing. One must have a general understanding of dances, drama/theater, music, and visual arts including basic dance movements, dramatic experiences, basic music principles, and a basic understanding of artwork. One must be able to express herself/himself through each of these areas and appreciate the creative expression of the authors of such works. One must also have a general knowledge of technique and skills in these areas to competently judge technique and skills.
- A person competent in health and movement must have a good understanding of the body and its development, functions, abilities, limitations, and factors that facilitate or inhibit the establishment of a healthy lifestyle. One must have knowledge of basic fundamental movement patterns, theories and principles of human motor learning, and developmentally appropriate movement/physical activities. One should understand the importance of team work as well as the psycho-social aspects of informal and organized play, games and sports.
- A person competent in human development must have an understanding and working knowledge of development from birth through adolescence in the following areas: cognitive, social, emotional, language, perceptual, motor and biological. The person must understand significant developmental theories and/or perspectives and their differing implications in explaining development and behavior. The person must also understand how development is affected by factors such as: family structure and parent-child relationships; peer group relationships; societal/institutional relationships; environmental circumstances; adult-child relationships; and cultural, economic, ethnic, gender, and generation influences. The person will be able to objectively observe childrenís behavior in different contexts and relate the behavior to developmental level and to factors that influence the childís performance in school.