Don’t PACE Yourself

Like all lowers, I am required to attend PACE class for one term this year. This past fall, I completed my PACE requirement, meeting during second period every Wednesday, a double I would normally have had free. In these classes, we learned and discussed the issues of drug and alcohol usage, peer pressure and stress among many other topics. Instead of feeling like I was engaging in productive discussion, however, I spent seventy minutes every week filling out one useless worksheet after another while restating information that I had already known before coming into the class. Nobody seemed enthusiastic about the class or offered much input to our discussions that hadn’t been taken from seventh grade health class. The issue of stereotyping wasn’t new to me, and racial profiling is something I have been aware of for a long time. Yet, I still found myself sitting around a wooden table with about fourteen other people, discussing why we shouldn’t categorize people or use drugs as a way to “escape our realities.” In PACE, we spent a lot of time discussing stress and its causes and effects. While pondering stress and its potential consequences, I realized that spending 70 minutes discussing stress each week might not be the best way to alleviate it. Furthermore, despite my term of PACE, I do not understand how to deal with stress any more effectively than I did before. If PACE were a matter of sitting through a double period every week to gain substantial new insight into common topics, it would not be an issue. But I felt it wasted our time every single week when we were required to group together and pretend to be interested in the discussion. I’m sure that if a student had a real problem they wanted to discuss, they would go to Graham House, Isham, or their house counselor before ever sharing their concern with 14 other classmates in a once-a-week-session. In fact, at the end of the course, one of our PACE instructors asked us for honest feedback about the course, and we came to the general consensus that although many of the highlighted issues in PACE were realities, no new information or perspective had been introduced to the students. Our own teachers had themselves admitted that they really saw limited value in our weekly sessions. If students don’t find PACE class helpful and instructors feel that it holds little educational value, why are we holding up the pretense? Does the school want to identify our habits and perspectives so they can better address the community? Or perhaps the school feels like it is their duty to the student body and the parents to provide some sort of “personal” class, no matter how useless the class really is? No matter what the true reason is, I will say that, in my opinion, PACE class was rather unfruitful and wasted time I would have preferred to spend in other more productive ways. However, in all the ways PACE disappointed me, it still followed through on one aspect; the cookies were really quite delicious. Christiana Nguyen is a two-year lower from Vancouver, WA.