Only seven out of eight

By Vivien Mao

When it comes to freedom in choosing a curriculum, Harvard-Westlake, compared to other secondary schools, is pretty lenient. But there are still many major flaws and frustrations I find when I try to plan my next year’s classes.

There are eight periods in one day, each one 45 minutes long. Yet with these six and a half hours of learning, students are not ALLOWED to learn for all six and a half hours. We are only allowed to take seven classes even though there are eight classes in a day because teachers think we will overload ourselves, and, many times, that ends up being the case. However, that rule does not apply to everyone.

The truth of the matter is that the students who want to take seven classes or less will take seven classes or less. There are some students who even now take only five or six classes, and that’s completely fine.  However, for the students who really want to take eight classes, why do we limit them? The California education system requires an art elective, a certain number of years for certain courses, and other mandatory courses. With only seven periods to fill, it’s unfair to limit the amount of classes a student can take, and then dictate to that student what classes must be taken.

Take the example of art requirements. I, for one, truly appreciate art. However, it is not a field in which I wish to study in particular. I admire artists, and I believe the arts are an extremely important part of education; on the other hand, why on earth should I be forced to take an art course when I would rather fill up that space with an independent study in my own specialized field? I don’t mind taking art classes out of school, or even filling up that eighth spot with a Visual Arts class, but I also don’t want it to take up a crucial spot in my already full curriculum of seven courses. Yet still I will be forced to drop a class in lieu of an arts course.

If a student cannot deal with eight classes, then he or she should be advised to take only seven or less. But don’t force students who believe they can manage their time effectively to take less than what they can and want to do.

To be perfectly frank, this limitation is also limiting interest fields for young minds. When someone goes to a school like Harvard-Westlake, the first thing on his or her mind is honors courses, APs, and colleges but look at the classes which are just interesting and yet have less participation because they don’t give that tiny little grade boost. Meteorology, psychology, and creative writing are all interesting specialized topics that cannot be taken by many students because of the obsession with the title “honors”. With only seven classes (and three or four pre-chosen classes), how can students even think of choosing “regular” classes?

If California forces high school students to take certain classes before being admitted to college then schools should make it easier to fulfill those requirements. Let us take the outside art class to complete our mandatory course requirements. We shouldn’t have to be forced to fill our already short time with classes that don’t directly interest us.