Academics Before Semantics

During last week’s Student Co-Presidential Forum, our newest Co-Presidents Theo Perez ’16 and Annette Bell ’16 meticulously outlined many solutions to current problems in the Andover community. Organized into neat sections, their plan is well-rounded and addresses many of the major issues on campus. While on matters such as athletics, mental health and student government, Andover students are unafraid to voice their concerns publicly. When it comes to discourse surrounding academics, our voices trail off, and suddenly we have little to say. A significant task for the new Student Council in the coming year is to address some of the academic issues on campus that deeply impact our livelihood as students.

It is a common assumption that Andover’s academic curriculum is as good as it gets. Because Andover’s academic system is considered prestigious worldwide, many of us are hesitant to question our own curriculum. After all, we are here to receive an education that is tried and tested, a rigid curriculum that has been shaped by faculty, alumni and professionals who have extensive experience in academia. Traditionally, it is the job of teachers to know what students need, and the students are tasked with listening to the teachers’ instructions.

There are, however, instances where students are beginning to speak up for how they think Andover’s academics could improve. Grace Tully ’15, for example, published an article in The Phillipian last week titled “Equalizing Academia,” in which she addressed the uneven emphasis placed on science and math subjects compared to that placed on the humanities. She proposed that the school introduce more independent study-based humanities courses and create definitive levels among existing English, History and Social Sciences and Religion and Philosophy courses.

While I acknowledge that our faculty are more than capable of maintaining an excellent curriculum, and their professional knowledge is invaluable, there are still problems in the scholastic sphere that only students notice. Often, these concerns are frequently complained about but never brought up to the faculty or Student Council. Some are convinced that an issue this serious would have already been handled by our capable faculty members a long time ago. We often forget, however, that the faculty are not in our shoes: our input is necessary for certain changes to be made. Although students are not qualified experts or professionals, we are in a position to critique our academic system and should capitalize on this advantage.