While everyone is worrying about how many Advanced Placement (AP) or honors classes are on his or her transcript, English electives often become a low priority. However, English electives are just as important as more focused-upon courses because they enable students to hone their critical thinking skills while exploring potential topics of interest. These skills are essential for success in college and beyond.
When teachers create English electives, they combine the key aspects of a rigorous English curriculum with common interests, creating an environment in which all students can thrive.
English teacher Erin Angell created and has taught the popular English elective Escape Literature for the past two years.
“I created this class so it could be the perfect amalgam of passion between my interests and my student’s [interests],” Angell said. “This class covers both fun and serious material.”
If the English Department offered more intriguing classes such as the already implemented Escape Literature, students would be more motivated to learn and challenge themselves in English disciplines.
Some believe that having a total of nine English electives is plentiful enough. Others feel confined to the offered electives. Junior Morgan Keller believes that a greater variety of courses would allow students to pursue their English interests.
“I think that adding more electives for subjects would be a really helpful idea because then students could choose classes that match their interests more and therefore be more excited about learning,” Keller said.
Adding more electives could also help spark new interests for students who are unsure of what careers they want to pursue in the future, a function that some English electives currently serve. For example, Film Composition can influence students to go into the film industry. Humanities can inspire people to pursue philosophical activities. The more electives available, the more students will get motivated to try new activities.
Admittedly, adding new electives is a challenge for the English Department, as scheduling logistics is difficult and there are a limited number of teachers who can teach the courses.
There also remains the possibility that fewer than 60 students will sign up for a class, not meeting the enrollment requirement for the creation of a new class.
However, there are a variety of solutions to these aforementioned issues. First, by not offering the electives that are frequently cancelled due to low enrollment, there will be the opportunity to add more appealing classes to the mix. Shakespeare/Chaucer is an example of an English elective that has consistently not attracted enough students to meet the minimum enrollment requirement, but has still been renewed every year.
Second, the English Department should propose two new replacement electives based on student interests. Including courses that appeal more to the students will increase the likelihood that these courses will be run successfully and will fuel the students’ passion for the subject.
With unpopular electives eliminated, the relevant material from those courses can be transferred to either an ongoing class or to one that is being added.
Since small classes such as Shakespeare/Chaucer will get canceled, some of the curriculum in these courses can get added to a different one.
In order to ensure that new courses will captivate students’ attention, the English Department could require teachers to give out a student interest survey that allows students to vote on different options for future electives.
By gathering this data, the English teachers will know where the interests of students lie, and based on that, offer courses that will cover them.
Electives that have been discussed by English teachers in the past range from Travel Literature and Media Studies, to a fantasy and mystery mixture and Graphic Novels.
As next year’s course enrollment period approaches, many rising juniors and seniors are excited about having the freedom to choose an English elective class of interest. By giving the option of a student-voted elective, English teachers will find a surge of dedicated and eager learners in their classes.