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The Talon

School’s humanities departments should propose more electives

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It’s no surprise that students on campus gravitate towards careers in STEM. After all, we live in the heart of Silicon Valley, where jobs in engineering and technology are promoted as both lucrative and available.
Our school is a reflection of this culture: over the past ten years, the school has added multiple STEM electives, such as ASI, Biotechnology, multiple engineering courses and multivariable calculus, just to name a few.
But the school doesn’t offer the same amount of English and Social Studies electives for students who want to develop equally in-depth interests in humanities. Social studies and English departments at our school should begin crafting proposals for more humanities electives, as a sizeable amount of the student body has already expressed interest in more options. Only then can all students fully explore and develop their passions on campus.
Current student demand for new English and history electives is more than enough to fuel the development and integration of new sections. In a Talon poll of students in all grades, 26 percent of students said they would take a humanities elective instead of a STEM elective or a free period. By continuing to offer limited humanities electives, the school is perpetuating an unfair bias against students hoping to pursue careers in non-STEM fields.
The district has already expressed willingness to approve new humanities courses, provided that the courses satisfy district graduation and UC requirements. Teachers in the history and English departments have already expressed interest in teaching potential new electives, including creative writing. With these hoops all cleared, the school shouldn’t hesitate to create electives that will help foster a more open-minded campus.
Some teachers expressed concern that new electives would create less diverse classes, where students from different backgrounds won’t interact with each other as frequently as in core English and history courses.
While this concern is valid, teachers should consider that exchanging some diversity in class demographics with cultivating student humanities passions is worth it. With more passionate humanities students, our campus will become a more balanced learning environment of diverse ideas and inspirations.
With more electives to choose from, students may have trouble fitting every desired course into their schedules. While this is certainly possible, limiting student enrollment in humanities electives to upperclassmen will alleviate most of these conflicts.
Upperclassmen often have more free periods in their schedules for extra classes. In addition, the school has handled STEM elective scheduling conflicts for years; accommodating for more humanities electives should not be an issue.
Offering more courses can also potentially displace current full-time teachers, but this issue can be avoided once the school implements a system that facilitates alignment of student and teacher course interests.
The benefits of expanding humanities course offerings far outweigh any logistical obstacle. Local public schools similar to ours, like Paly and Gunn, currently offer numerous humanities electives for their seniors, such as Works of Shakespeare, Classical Mythology, Escape Literature, The Cold War, Creative Writing, sociology and ethnic studies. It’s time for our campus to catch up on creating more balanced and fair opportunities for everyone, not just STEM students.

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The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California
School’s humanities departments should propose more electives