Underclassmen Need More Options

Underclassmen Need More Options

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Grade 9 course selections: 2017-2018 | by Brianna Cabral

by Brianna Cabral

Freshmen are given 44 electives to choose from, 36 of those electives being fine arts or technology/business, which only leaves 8 other academic electives. Freshmen should not be burdened with course limitations and fewer academic options due to their youth.

This system was put in to separate the upper- and underclassmen. The school tried to keep certain electives available to only eighth and ninth graders, and most electives are specific to grades 10-12 due to more advanced topics. One of the biggest concerns was having 13-15 year olds grouped with 16-18 year olds because of the difference in maturity. But this did not entirely prevent them from being in the same classes.

These age groups already interact. Freshmen can take classes with juniors and seniors in their electives and language classes.

The world language classes include all grades.  In my own Portuguese class last year, when I was a eighth grader, I had a senior, a junior and a handful of sophomores. We see them throughout the halls and at lunch every day. Student athletes are most likely on teams with seniors and other upperclassmen. Only the core classes like history, science, English, and even math separate the grades.

These restrictions prevent freshmen from taking Contemporary Legal Issues, all World Cultures classes, Ethics, Economic Theories, Cold War Era & Film, Sociology, Astronomy, Zoology, Marine Ecology, TV News, Honors Accounting I, Architecture & Interior Design, Exploring Mobile Apps, Photography, Advanced Theatre Studies(full year), and more.

It is understandable that a freshman may not get into a class because there are more seniors/juniors requesting it. Without the ability to even sign up for the class, freshmen have no chance.

For some classes this restriction make sense. To take anatomy and physiology, students need to have taken biology. Students take biology freshman year. But for other classes listed above, there is no requirement to take another class prior to that one.

Sometimes the content requires this separation of grades. June Murray’s World Culture classes are only open to 10-12th graders. She is “not sure that World Cultures is an appropriate class for freshmen. As an anthropology course there is candid discussion of human behaviors that may not be appropriate content for younger students.”

Freshmen and sophomores are only one year apart, but according to Murray, “sophomore year most students are beginning to develop academic independence, something most freshmen do not have.” Murray has had experience with teaching freshmen before, so she knows how they learn. “Whether we are 50 or 15 we have different needs.”

With four different World Cultures classes, she thinks two would be appropriate for freshmen to take, Middle East and Eastern Faiths.

“[They] have to be interested, and [they] really have to be prepared to take on independent learning, and if [they] are not I don’t want to be in the position where I am holding [their] hand,” Murray says.

The other two World Cultures classes are Latin America Africa and Asia Oceania. They are anthropology classes, so there is talk about human behavior. “It’s a pretty intense correlation between psychology, sociology, and anthropology. I think that the type of conversations we have about human behavior, many ninth grade parents don’t want their 14 year old discussing sexual practices,” Murray believes.

If parents are uncomfortable with their child being exposed to this content, then the child shouldn’t take the class. But, they are already in high school, and for most freshmen they have already been exposed to sexual content from health classes or other sources. By exposing them earlier, then they will likely deal with it better in the future.

Without opening these classes to the lower grades, we are limiting students’ opportunities to take more classes. Now because students can not take the class they wanted freshman year, they have to take it sophomore year, but their schedule is limited. They can’t take many classes. This problem could cause students to miss the opportunity to take the class before they graduate.

This is a prime example of where a new class could be added for ninth graders and maybe even eighth graders. By adding electives for science and social studies at the eighth and ninth grade levels, students will have a greater probability of getting into a class that interests them.

As an eighth grader, I was put into 2 business/technology classes and an art class. These classes do not connect with the career I’m interested in. Even for freshmen year I wished there was an extra wellness elective or medical classes because that is what I want to do in my future.

Adding more electives will engage students and better prepare them for their future, and isn’t that what schools should be doing?

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