Electives at BHS

April 2000

I have a request of you this week as we fill out the course request forms. If your child will be a sophomore and excels more in the humanities than the sciences, please consider Integrated Science 3&4 (AD35 ) that uses only 1 period instead of two. This class satisfies the UC and CSU science lab requirement as well as BHS graduation requirements. (No matter what grade your child is in or the strengths they exhibit, please look for opportunities to ask for electives in all areas.)

Requesting this will do two things. First, especially for the sophomores,it will give your child the chance to choose something they might delight in doing everyday. That breathing space may help them make it through the tougher subjects. It is the school's job of course to give them the basics. And it should also expose them to new areas of learning that they must sometimes be pushed to study. But the most important job of education is to develop if not a love, at least a respect for what learning does for them.

A desire to pursue new information and digest ideas will hold them in good stead their whole lives, no matter how they fared at high school. To do that, we must keep the delight of their talents and their loves in what we define as their "formal education." In that elective class, they might discover that learning can be very satisfying. They might get that sense that they can do something really well when they try. That's a vital lesson whether continue onto a university or not.

As a student myself, I remember that the school pressures were heavy. Still there were moments to enjoy, to breathe, to discover the wonderful sense of achievement that came from hard work, well done. For today's children attempting to be good students, I don't see as much room for exhaling, nor many opportunities for feeling they have done something to a fine standard.

Perhaps, it is because we demand they take *every* subject they are introduced to, to an advanced level. Rather than enriching or adding to their breadth of understanding, we may instead only be overwhelming them.

I also think we are sending them a message that they aren't valued if their gifts aren't everywhere. Yes, the colleges are demanding it. Do we let it continue?

The second thing demanding these classes will do, is send a message to the schools at all levels that we feel that the richness of electives are important to real education. It makes the whole experience more successful for a child. That's an important message to send.

We should have in BHS's large size the advantage of a wide choice to accomplish both the excitement that can be found in learning, and the exposure that leads to educational maturity. I worry that the cut-backs are happening in the humanities and the wonderful tastes of academic electives. It is taking from our children the important delights, leaving only the demands. It's hard to do only the grind without some joys as counterbalance.

So please, try to find a place for the electives. I have spoken with the counselors who have said we can put the electives we wish to request on the form in Section #3. (It is set up in Section #1 so that only the required academic core seems to have room for consideration). But they will look at all the classes requested.

If at each step of our child's education, enough of us demand a wider, more varied path of learning that respects each child's range of true abilities, attempts to encourage them to excel in that but also understands that some subjects will be secondary strengths,perhaps we can get it! Our children will feel they are valued for exactly who they are, not for how well they can be molded into some faceless universal student. Perhaps they will be more successful people for it.