Abby Teodori '19
It seems that every incoming class must deal with one more requirement: gym for all four years, two years of art, a year of computer science, consumer education, a civics course, service projects – the list goes on and on.
Learning what you are interested in is a key component of education that is neglected as graduation requirements increase. The rigid conformity of graduation requirements means that not only are students disinterested and disengaged from their classes; they will not know where to go next. In a time when many colleges expect prospective students to come in declaring a major and classes are increasingly expensive, having some idea of what you are interested in can help save money and time. Furthermore, being able to explore in a safe environment like high school helps allows for growth, whereas later in life there can be bigger risks attached to trying new things.
A looser set of graduation requirements would drastically increase the engagement and interest in both students and teachers alike. By having a free reign over their class choice, students will be more likely to enroll in classes that they are actually interested in. This will allow for a clearer insight to the interest level in certain classes, which can make it easier for teachers to plan and anticipate class curriculums.
In addition to this, it is mandated that we learn specific units, such as consumer education, financial literacy, and service learning, within certain courses. These are, unsurprisingly, important life skills that students should take away from their high school experience – regardless of what their interests are. These short units are slammed into core classes that become a scheduling nightmare for teachers, who already have to teach class material, and sometimes on a shortened AP time frame. While the current graduation requirements aim to make students as well-rounded as possible, important life skills are overlooked and underappreciated.
Perhaps a solution would be to generalize the central requirements, combining social sciences, foreign languages, and English classes into humanities requirements and sciences and mathematics into STEM requirements. This allows for students to still get an understanding of the basics but with increased flexibility. To ensure that these important life skill units aren’t rushed, there should be one required class for all students to take that covers these topics. Students often ask, “When am I going to use this in real life?” but with better requirements, they would not only be able to adjust their curriculum to their futures and interests, but pick up and focus on skills that actually will be used in real life.