Sometimes less is more
When I began teaching, English IV was an elective at my small district. The class was rigorous, thought-provoking, engaging — challenging preparation for college English. Students who took the class chose to be there; they appreciated the tough standards.
The year English IV became a graduation requirement, the quality of the class declined. I found myself with students who didn’t want to be there. They were budding engineers and scientists and ranchers, or simply students whose sensibilities and interests lay elsewhere.
In order to accommodate all students — those who wanted to be there and those who simply needed credit — I had to lessen the rigor, lower the expectations and do my best to get everyone through.
When Texas implemented the “four-by-four” curriculum requirements, I watched many of my colleagues go through the same disheartening adjustment I’d been through. Rigorous upper-level classes lost their rigor.
Many students were made to enroll in yet another class in which they had no interest. Others, who once found their upper-level math or science classes challenging, were made to endure yet another class that had been moderated to accommodate the masses. No one was served.
Sometimes less really is more.
Such is the case with eliminating the algebra II graduation requirement. Students who choose to take algebra II will find themselves in a challenging class of like-minded people, and those who choose not to take it may enroll in classes better suited to their own interests and goals.
Here’s hoping other such enlightened changes will follow.
Charise Cullin Christian,