The Philosophy Behind our Course Requirements

Stephanie Racker Latin has often put students in a place to make their own decisions regarding their high school career, one example being class selections. As students advance throughout high school, they are given more responsibility in choosing classes that interest them without the hassle of school requirements preventing them from pursuing fields of their interest. Freshman are given the most limited opportunities in terms of classes to chose from due to the finite course requirements. For starters, all freshmen are required to take Global Cities, a course split into a history class and visual arts class. Although this course is predetermined, Latin does allow freshman students to receive one half of a visual arts credit, which fulfills a part of the arts requirements. Freshmen are also automatically placed into English 9 and two quarters worth of Latin’s Wellness rotations. However, students begin to experience a taste of class selection in terms of their physics, math, and language requirement. Physics is limited but students are given the option to select an honors class. Math holds more variety as students can be tested and placed into a particular class deemed best fit for them. In comparison to all previous classes listed, language arguably offers the most diversity for students in terms of choices. Each student chooses a language he or she desires solely based on interest, similar to electives. Despite the fact that freshman have limited opportunities during their first year, each course chosen by Latin shows the school’s philosophy for students to begin their high school career with exposure to many fields. This provides each individual with a well-rounded education before honing into one subject based on their passion. Similar to freshman year, sophomores are required to take a language of their choice as well as an honors or regular course Chemistry. Unlike freshman year, to fulfill math requirements all students of tenth grade must take geometry, no matter their previous level of math. By requiring all students to switch to geometry, Latin acknowledges this course as a fundamental aspect of every student’s high school career that is necessary to complete. Also, next year the school will be altering its history and English program. Originally, students were given options when choosing their respective history class and were then assigned to English 10. Instead, Latin has provided students with the capability to not only determine their history class but to also select their English curriculum. English 10 has been split into different classes based on the topics each history class offers. Latin recommends students take the English class that would correspond with their history topic but this is not mandatory. Latin allows students a gradually increasing amount of freedom as they proceed throughout high school in regards to their class selection. By senior year at Latin, the idea of student choice is most prominent as the only required class is English. The reasoning behind the school’s requirement that students take four years of English is best explained by English Department Chair, Ms. Diorio: “Secondary schools generally require four years of English for graduation, and Latin is no exception. As a department, we find that students improve as readers and writers through constant practice, which is why we find continual enrollment in English essential.” Simply put, Latin strives to give students a foundation to succeed in college and after. By creating requirements that students must fulfill, each individual will have a strong grasp on core subjects while being given ample opportunities further in their high school career to experiment and indulge in subjects they find interesting. This fluid structure allows students to become passionate about a specific field rather than feeling stuck in a rigid curricular cycle. A philosophy that allows students the opportunity to explore their interest without the hassle or stress of an overwhelming amount of requirements results in a happier and more passionate environment.]]>