Out of the Loop

Last week, Madeline Silva ‘13 wrote an article in the Phillipian entitled “Learning Opportunity,” directly under my own, addressing the death of Osama bin Laden. In many ways, our reactions to the Andover community’s response after the death of bin Laden were similar. I discovered the news of bin Laden’s death on Facebook, and like Silva, I had the same surreal experience the next day in my classes, with the only real faculty-facilitated discussion in my section of History 310. In CXXXIV, No. 4, published on March 4th, I voiced the same concerns regarding the inflexibility of the Andover curriculum in my article “A New Idiom: Learn and Apply.” I mentioned the astoundingly resolute power of self-obsession at Andover. I wrote, “We use our significant workload as an excuse to remove ourselves from anything not deemed important to our GPA’s, SAT’s, personal bests, concertos or portfolios. But while the work we do here is important, we cannot forget the larger world we live in.” As with all the things at Andover to focus on, such as senior spooning, or the death of Osama bin Laden, the novelty soon wears off and Andover students soon turn back to the daily grind of papers, applications and standardized tests. Without taking the time to examine everything that has taken place in just the last few months, Andover could leave us completely vulnerable to what may follow. With the death of bin Laden, for example, many in Washington believe that Al Qaeda will retaliate in some way against the United States. At the most extreme, after sequestering ourselves here at Andover, we may emerge ready for college, only to discover our college of choice was the site of a terrorist attack and not have the education in current events to understand why. While that is definitely far-fetched, I had no idea of bin Laden’s death, a man with a twenty-five million dollar bounty on his head, until two hours after it happened, as Andover had tied me up with my grueling Upper Spring workload. Yet I, and perhaps many students, believe that we should be focusing at least a little more on the fate of the Middle East and a little less on Upper Spring. When I graduate from Andover, the world will suddenly seem much bigger. And based on what happens in the Middle East in the next ten years, by the time I graduate next June, the world could look not just stranger, but also unfamiliar. My question is whether my fellow Andover students and I will know of the revolutions as they happen or receive the belated news from a friend or relative. What Andover needs is either a course, or a publication, or a student organization, where anyone and everyone can get together and discuss the revolutions, natural disasters and economies of the world, in a space that fosters healthy discourse from all members of the Andover community. Many of the clubs and organizations on campus seem to expect extensive knowledge of current events in order to be respected by fellow members. We need a place where students can learn and flesh out current events without judgment or pretension. Ben Krapels is a three-year Upper from Andover, MA and a columnist for the Phillipian.