Korean J General Edu Search


Korean Journal of General Education 2012;6(2):43-77.
Published online June 30, 2012.
R econsidering the Issue of the Practicality of General Education
Sungwon Kim
교양교육의 실용성 문제에 관한 재고(再考)
This paper sought to find major implications of the Western educational history on the relationship between the general education and the professional education so that we may find proper answers to the practicality issue of general education. In this historical research we first found that both faculties of education are deeply inter-related to each other. This inter-relatedness is not surprising as they are just different aspects of the same human beings. Thus it is no wonder that some educators tried to integrate the two educational areas. However, our historical inquiry has also found that the integration of the two faculties has caused numerous problems. Often such integration ended up with the dominating of professional education. The difficulty of the integration may not only be due to the practical utility of the professional education, but also because of the fact that the two areas of education have mutually exclusive goals and values. The purpose of general education is to find the essential values and essence of human beings apart from their practical values. It was not possible to pursue two mutually exclusive goals within the same educational processes. Third, as a result of the foregoing observation, it may be necessary to separate the general and professional educational faculties. Of course, there are educational theorists who claim the structural integration of the two. However, if we look into their theories closely, they presuppose a monistic ontology that is either very limited or reductionistic. Most of the professional and scientific educations follow such an ontology, accordingly reducing human beings into either sensory perceptions, practical activities or even mere matters. It should be the role of Humanities and general education to overcome and warn such a limitation of practical education. And for that matter, the systematic separation of the two are in order. Fourth, general education and professional education should supplement each other. Considering both the essential connectedness and necessary independence of the two areas, inter-disciplinary or convergent education is requested. In this case, inter-disciplinary education should take the form of comparative-studies rather than consilience to ensure the independence of respective area to be maintained. Through the mutually supplementary efforts participants may experience different perspectives and values of the other faculty, which may help expand the limited frame of their own academic reference. Fifth, the Western educational history also shows us that the contents of general education has been changed over time. This teaches us that general education in the 21st century Korea should not copy others and should be relevant to our time and culture. Thus we are invited to pursue Korean general education, and further, to ask a more fundamental philosophical question regarding the essential nature and values of Korean people today. This naturally calls for the collective efforts of educators in the general education faculty who represent various humanistic perspectives. Finally this paper also claims that there are emphatic points of general education for each generation. Each historical era shows different human values and natures it neglected as well as highlighted. General education is endowed with the mission to emphasize those neglected humanistic values to recover the balance and wholeness of humanity for each generation. Thus today’s general education should also develop and teach those neglected values as proper contents of education. The historical importance of general education is increasing today as the influence and dominance of science are increasing. The knowledge of science is a blind knowledge in and of itself in the sense that it may either help or destroy human race depending on its use.
Key Words: General Education, Humanities, Professional Education, Practicality Issue, History of Western Education


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