Electives for Uppers

As every break nears its end, I wait with anticipation and excitement for the Andover booklist to be posted. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been disappointed to find that my teacher’s taste in books is the complete opposite of my own. I scroll down the booklist and look at other teachers’ lists of books, wishing that I were placed in these other classes. Just as many times I have been disappointed, I have been delighted to find that my literary interests match those of my teacher. Ultimately, important factors such as what books I would be reading, what kind of papers I would be writing and how the classes would be conducted are completely dictated by chance. Until last year, variation in texts and assignments in English 300 was not prominent. Teachers were required to include a few texts, including “Oedipus Rex,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Canterbury Tales,” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Hamlet,” in their English 300 curriculum. However, the English Department decided to get rid of the required core texts of the English 300 curriculum. If the goal of the change is to allow teachers to teach at their maximum potential, the English department should let Uppers do the same: learn to their maximum potential by allowing them to select their own English course. With the core texts no longer required, English 300 instructors became free to select whatever texts they want to teach their students. However, with 14 different instructors teaching English 300 this fall, 49 different texts that were taught. Throwing these diverse classes into the same category under the name of English 300 and not giving Uppers the choice of selecting their own course is unreasonable because the classes are already so varied that they might as well be electives. Andover’s diploma requirements also mandate two years of science. After taking Biology 100 and a chemistry class, students in the typical science curriculum are free to choose whatever science course they want. The same philosophy should be applied to the English department. English 100 and 200 teach fundamental writing and reading skills to underclassmen. Uppers, having already taken two years of mandatory English, should be free to choose their English course. Andover encourages students to pursue their interests and aids them by offering a large variety of courses and extracurriculars. Placing students by chance, rather than their own choice, limits them from pursuing their own humanities interests. By creating English electives for students’ Upper year, the English Department would give Uppers a chance to study texts that they’re interested in and create a more dynamic classroom space. Teachers teach best when they teach what they love, just as students learn best when they’re studying literature that they’re passionate about. Anika Kim is a three-year Upper from Seoul, Korea, and an Associate News Editor for The Phillipian.