Do “Hack” Classes Provide Any Benefit?
by Natalie Perlov on Friday, June 6th, 2014
The life of an average Milton student is unquestionably chaotic. When we first receive our schedules, the long list of classes seems daunting. With only twenty-four hours in a day, we must attempt to fit in hours of homework, sports practice, research, studying, and planning, all in addition to the seven hours we must devote to actually attending classes. During the school day, we stress constantly about everything from being late to tackling major assignments to what we should wear tomorrow. Students who want just one easy class in the middle of such a busy schedule choose to enroll in “hack” courses, considered to be easy, due to their low-stress curricula and laid-back teachers. Although these classes allow students to unwind during the day and focus on more important work at night, students must consider whether or not they can really learn in these classes. If so, such classes are a win-win: they can easily receive good grades and learn simultaneously. If not, they should think about their priorities. If students want the grade to look good on college applications, they must consider whether colleges prefer low-performing students who learned something or high-performing students who do not challenge themselves. While Milton supports challenging oneself, easy classes should not be discounted as unwise options as long as they are academically rewarding.
Milton requires that students fulfill certain requirements and take a certain amount of credits in order to graduate. A hack class may fill the requirement without filling our backpacks with more homework, and may guarantee us at least one period of freedom during the school day from our regular work. For one blissful period, we don’t have to stress about strict teachers, ridiculous amounts of homework, tests, quizzes, or other mundane school work. With the promise of one class where work does not pile up, students have more time to pour into their more serious studies.
However fun a hack class may be, wasting time in a class that has no real value for us other than a break is obviously not beneficial. Instead of putting more time and effort into a rigorous class a student really cares about, choosing to squander one’s time at Milton in an unengaging easy A course makes one miss out on what Milton has to offer. Our school offers so many other courses that one could take to fill in a schedule credit; why not put forth the extra effort to reap the benefits of and truly enjoy a class that interests you?
Nevertheless, some students may argue that taking an easy class is justifiable as long as the pupil learns something in the class. As a Class III student said, “I had two really easy classes this year: language and art. In my language class, I was not challenged at all; however, last year I didn’t get into the higher class, so this is the most challenging level I can do, at least according to the department.” She went on to say, “In my art class, however, I learned so much—the work was easier and more fun, but I still vastly improved from the beginning of the year to the end.” This student took two hack classes; the one she was placed in, with no choice on her part, didn’t challenge or engage her at all. However, she learned a substantial amount in the class she chose, even though it is widely perceived as a hack class.
Hack classes do have their advantages; they provide a means to unwind during the school day and still obtain enough credits. However, wasting time in a class only because you have to is not the way we should utilize our education. As long as students can learn in a class, the deciding factor as to whether or not they take it should not be its degree of difficulty. Instead, students should take classes in which they can learn, grow, and advance their educations—regardless of the stress and work required.
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