Opinion: Why Social Commentary Classes Should be Required

by Sydney Stevenson ’19

published on May 16, 2019

Throughout my time at USN, I have been very fortunate to be a space where there is such a love of learning. I have been able to take classes that I found interesting while simultaneously fulfilling my graduation requirements in the process. Something that stands out to me about our community is not only our love of learning, but the push to expand our learning beyond the walls of our classrooms. To think beyond what’s in the structured curriculum.

To complement this idea, there are a wide array of upperclassmen courses and seminars tailored to expanding our learning into communities larger than our own: Transforming Discourse, Ethics, Social Conscience, just to name a few. In these classes and electives, students are pushed to explore real-world issues and take the time needed to digest and analyze all sides of the matter. In academic classes such as Transforming Discourse and Social Conscience, the seminars are established not necessarily grade book oriented, but more focused on participation in discussions and debates. Through these classes, students are not only open to talk about world issues, but also analyze the why and how behind what’s happening around us. As well, opening up to debates and discussions allow students to strengthen their opinions, or change them, and develop a stronger sense of why one may have those opinions in the first place. These spaces are vital to our community and important when thinking about our future generations going into the world.

It’s because of this line of reasoning, that I believe a class under the discipline of a ‘Social Commentary’ class should be required in the High School curriculum. This could come in the form of classes I previously mentioned, more focused around the cultural issues we face, or it could be a class based on something more abstract: like philosophy or sociology. The upperclassmen seminar nature of these courses allows for students to build up their confidence as they head out into the real world outside the bounds of Edgehill Avenue, and build the groundwork for personal development of one’s own thoughts and opinions.

As we grow older and go off to college and beyond, it is important for us to have a strong base self-confidence, so as not to lose who we truly are in the process. To foster these ideas in an academically based setting is something so uniquely special at USN, and something that should hold more weight when thinking about student development.

This is especially timely because of the new adjusted schedule for the 2019-2020 school year. As we think about the credit system and what is important for students to leave USN with, it is the perfect time to modify what is vital to the USN curriculum. We are in a new age with a neverending digital media news stream, and having a space to disassemble and analyze what’s happening all around us is more necessary, now than ever. There’s a lot to think about for next year and beyond, and as our world shifts, it’s important to take a step back every once in a while and take a holistic look at how we prepare for it.

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