Commentary

Balancing Input

When it comes to last minute studying for Spanish tests or trying to balance extracurriculars and academics, nobody knows more about the time management problems that students face than the students themselves. Only the students know how challenging life at Andover can be, so as the faculty prepares to vote on the four potential schedules in December, I want to emphasize the fact that student input is invaluable.

The four proposed schedules vary in many ways, such as the length of each class, the number of classes in a day and even the number of terms per year. As stated in the Strategic Plan, the goal of changing the schedule is to promote “Empathy & Balance,” and each of these schedules is designed to encourage these values. In December, only the faculty members at Andover will vote to narrow their options down to the two that they think would benefit students the most. Students, on the other hand, ultimately have no say in this decision.

Allowing only teachers to decide which one of the four schedule options will help students the most will be detrimental to the success of the new schedule. Try as they may, teachers have no first-hand knowledge about the daily challenges that the students face as a result of our schedules. Most teachers are involved in student life as coaches, house counselors or advisors, but even so, they only see the versions of their students that are presented to them: they rarely see us at 1:00 a.m. when we still have an entire essay to write, and they don’t hear our tearful conversations with parents about the amount of major assignments we have and how stressed we feel. Their knowledge of student life at Andover is incredibly limited.

While teachers’ opinions should obviously play an important role in this decision, students should also be allowed to identify the issues within our current system and be given the power to address these issues. The clear solution to this problem is to include students in this decision. An easy fix would be to organize a forum like last year’s School Congress on the schedule, which could be a structured conversation in which students and faculty are invited to discuss the proposed schedules together. Something as small as this would allow students to influence this decision in the way that we deserve.

Nov 12, 2015