This piece was published in the September 2015 issue of the Prep News
Anyone that knows me well knows that above all, I am “an English guy.” It’s true, I love English. It is my best subject, my passion, and could very well become my livelihood someday. It is natural, then, that I would want to expand my English horizons as far as they could possibly reach. The problem is that I can’t.
For those interested in science, the only problem with electives is that there are too many to choose from (not entirely unrelated to the STEAM initiative). For those interested in visual or performing arts, electives are not scarce with classes ranging from Intro to Dance to AP Studio Art. But for the English folk like myself, not a single elective is to be found.
In a school that prides itself on the quantity and quality of opportunities offered to students, it seems absurd that not a single English elective exists at Rockhurst. There is no curricular opportunity for creative writing or intensive Shakespeare study outside of the mandatory English classes, and those leave little room for selective study.
If I want to further my study of English, literature and composition, I think my school should provide curricular opportunities to do so. English electives at other private schools can be found in abundance, even at other Jesuit all-male high schools like St. Louis University High School, which offers 12 English electives.
Yes, you read that correctly. A school with markedly similar demographics, similar origins and physical proximity offers 12 more English electives than we do. It would be hard to say that Rockhurst is going for the Magis with a comparison like that. I can only assume that the absence of electives is not due to lack of faculty or finance, considering the sums that have gone towards STEAM initiatives and master plan renovations. Not to mention, English classes do not require any of the expensive technology that a program like robotics does.
A school should start with the curriculum. A shiny new classroom with a spotty curriculum does not benefit the students, and the absence of English electives is certainly a large hole in an otherwise broad curriculum.