Wigwam Jones, I hear what you're saying. So let's take your argument a few steps further... Let's just not teach photography at all. Let them learn on their own like the original photographers did. Or perhaps like some of us did. I'm sure there are many of us that didn't go to school for photography.
This is just one guy, teaching at a smallish university in southern Ontario. He's not teaching the future professional photographers at a major arts university. And I'm sure this is not the only thing he teaches nor the only way he teaches it. He's introducing people to photography that may be art teachers in high schools. This is a PART of what they have to learn over their four years there. I don't think there is any crime in taking a small step back from the uber-automated, digital, one size fits all world and having them spend a few bucks on a manual camera and lens and some film. Heavens! Isn't that part of the reason this forum exists?
Requirements of university courses are everywhere. Texts are a prime example: You MUST have this text and edition, not the edition before it but the current edition. That used to piss me off at university but that was how it worked. A LOT of courses would go further than that with their requirements.
How would you teach a course like this, Wiggy?