Realistic GERs the College should adopt

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November 18, 2013

11:13 PM

I’m about to finish my final GER. It’s GER 3: Social Sciences, which, for me, constituted a couple of psychology classes that liked to munch on my GPA. As soon as the semester is over, I’ll cage it up with introduction to philosophy and mathematics of powered flight, neither of which I will ever use. Do I feel like a well-rounded individual? Maybe, but as I look at myself and at my fellow TWAMPs, I’m still wondering if the College of William and Mary isn’t missing a few required courses.

Let’s start with the basics.

GER 8: Personal Finance

Also known as teaching you how not to go broke, especially in the ridiculously overpriced tourist town of Williamsburg, Va. I’m not exactly sure how money works; sometimes I have it, and sometimes I don’t. It would be nice to learn how to pay bills, balance a checkbook and do all that other financial mumbo jumbo.

GER 9: Communing with Nature

Pop quiz: Upon seeing a crazy squirrel, you a) feed it, b) pet it, c) take it home to give to your roommate, or d) walk away. For some reason, it seems that many students (myself included) have some difficulty being one with nature. Potential topics of discussion during class: Bamboo near the Crim Dell is not a weapon, rabid raccoons are not for hugging, and burning pine needles on the grills is probably not the brightest idea.

GER 10: Developing and Maintaining Relationships

This time, I’m not kidding (Was I kidding before?). Towson University actually offers a course on emotional intimacy, which strives to push students out of their comfort zones in order to demonstrate that this generation has some trouble with “normal” social interactions. One of the assignments was to text a friend about your true feelings without taking the time to think about the wording. Spit it out and hit send. According to Towson’s professor Andrew Reiner, the assignment caused quite a bit of distress.

We TWAMPs have a reputation for being socially awkward. You might say we have the book smarts, but our social skills need work. When we’re meeting people at the bars, we tend to open conversations with basic TWAMP talk. What year are you? What’s your major? What’s your opinion on Kant’s moral philosophy? That’s all fine, but moving on from there is sometimes tough.

But seriously. Do we really need a class?

To me, a class on social skills sounds comparable to a modern language class. The classroom and the real world are remarkably different — the only way to become truly fluent in a foreign language is to be completely immersed in a society that speaks that language. In the same manner, the only way to develop social skills is to get out there and be social. Practice. If you make mistakes, fine. It’s a learning experience. You’ll laugh about it later. I know I spend an embarrassing amount of time laughing at my own awkwardness.

Of course, a class wouldn’t be entirely without merit. It would certainly help us recognize our shortcomings. The Towson class seems to focus on the impact of social media. Big surprise: Those who heavily rely on Facebook and texting tend to have more difficulty with intimate relationships, whether they involve friends or romantic partners. As a result of these social media sites, we tend to be oversensitive. We feel as if we’re always on display; thus, we tailor our behavior to fit the norm, even though in doing so, we might miss out on emotional intimacy.

When it comes down to it, there’s nothing wrong with being a bit of an awko-taco. If we’re awkward, we’re awkward, and there are plenty of others (especially at the College) who will happily be awkward with us.

But taking GER 10 probably wouldn’t hurt.

Email Samantha Farkas at [email protected]

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