Course Selections Article

By: Annie Steuart and Sofiya Lyall

Do you feel like you are stranded in the desert? Do you feel like you are an Athenian student stranded in the wilderness with no water and food, terrifyingly close to DEATH? If this is you, listen we’re finna drop some knowledge…

Contrary to the PsYchEdelIc imagery that our graphic suggests, this is actually an article on course selection at Head Royce.  It has come to our attention that students often find themselves in a hopeless, stranded-in-a-desert like condition because they are taking classes they find uninteresting. We have heard students complain time and time again about the obscene stress they face each time they step into their accelerated math class, or their challenging AP science classes. Invariably, when a question is posed to students regarding the reason they subject themselves to classes they so abhor, the response is something along the lines of ‘It looks better on a college transcript.’

At Head Royce, and in California specifically, there is a stigma surrounding what qualifies intelligence. Often, it seems it is defined by your ability to stay afloat in advanced math and science classes. Though it is understandable that schools in California put an emphasis on STEM courses, given the revenue coming from technological innovation in Silicon Valley, it nonetheless frankly demeaning to students with a predisposition for different subjects. To impose a system upon students which encourages them to prioritize math and science courses, despite the fact that these courses are not appealing to everyone, creates a burnt-out, uninspired student body who take classes not out of passion for the subject matter, but simply to appeal to a college board which prioritizes a certain type of learner. It is critical that students are encouraged to take classes that they are genuinely interested in, so that they can eventually develop skills in a subject they are passionate about. This means that outside of core classes, the only question that should be asked while scheduling  is “What are you interested in?” Currently, it feels like emphasis is placed upon classes that will “challenge” you and therefore make you look more appealing to colleges. But what if you just rode out your desert trip a little bit, found something you were legitimately interested in and went DEEEP MAHN? Classes that challenge you are certainly beneficially and in most cases, inevitable, but, if given a choice, make sure you opt for a class that is not EARTH-SHATTERINGLY DIFFICULT or overly unpleasant.

In addition, this prioritization of STEM courses creates a power divide between different fields of learning, and makes students who may possess a different type of intelligence feel inferior, and unrespected by their administration and fellow peers. More broadly, by encouraging students to select courses which do not develop their own strengths, we condemn our youth to the idea that life is about suffering through insurmountable obstacles in order to achieve some form of pay-off in the distant future. While teaching youth the importance of perseverance is certainly laudable; compelling students to increase the time they spend on subjects they feel no emotional connection to or aptitude for is detrimental, in that it discourages students to develop skills in classes they are passionate about. By forcing students to waste their time absorbing and regurgitating information they have no interest in, we create an education system interested purely in a transactional experience, one devoid of true meaning and so far removed from real-world application, students lose all sense of purpose, and eventually lose all excitement for learning.

Those who favor the humanities shouldn’t feel obligated to necessarily take that harder math class if it is really going to be digging into time that they could be sleeping or doing something beneficial to one’s health. There shouldn’t be comments like: “Oh but he/she is in the easier math class” as if this is somehow a testament of your intelligence or willingness to put in effort. And the best part is, if you want to go to Death Valley and collect GEODES and like be obsessed with that, you should have time in your schedule to do so. Passion can be hard to find when you are just grinding through the everyday, uninterested in what it is you are actually doing. Interestingly as well, when you are feeling fulfilled and excited to learn, I think feeling excited about something is much easier. FIND YOUR GEODES MY G’S.