[Editorial] Affective Ed Should be Effective Ed
by The Milton Measure on Friday, February 10th, 2017
Health, Values, Social Awareness, and Senior Transitions… they all sound like such noble pursuits. Yet at Milton, they often fall short of their potential. A survey of the student body reveals that as much as 60% of students responded that they did not find these affective ed course useful. However, 81% of respondents said that the topics taught in these classes were important. This disparity indicates that the current structure and form of these classes is not meeting the needs of the student body.
While the general purpose of affective ed is to inform students about current social, economic, political, and racial issues, the affective ed classes at Milton have turned from classes centered on serious issues to a casual and infrequent coming togethers of unenthused students. Teachers often cancel affective ed classes, causing students to question the importance of class if not even their teacher finds the material worthwhile. Following the example of their teacher, students often cut classes, choosing to employ their one “free” cut for the semester. If students are expected to take affective ed classes seriously, then teachers should, at the very least, be able to make their own attendance a priority. Afterall, if teachers have such a hard time finding room for class in their schedule, then they shouldn’t have taken on the class in the first place.
One student complained, “Honestly it’s a wasted free period. I dread coming to class because it’s usually deathly boring. Fortunately teachers cancel more than half the time so we get the time to do something more worthwhile,” while another added, “Values is indescribably pointless.” If neither students nor teachers are willing to commit to these courses, how can anyone expect to gain anything, even if the content is valuable?
Not only do many students feel that affective ed classes are pointless and unprioritized, but also over half (51%) of respondents say that they do not feel comfortable sharing in their classes without fear of judgement. Affective ed should be about discussing and learning about important, current topics among peers. But if over half of students in classes feel uncomfortable – or worse – fear participating, the classes cannot actually meet this goal. While affective ed classes consistently go over class guidelines that outline how to be an active and respectful listener, these rules evidently do not absolve the self-consciousness students feel when their beliefs do not match those of their often very opinionated teachers. To effectively discuss sensitive topics, affective ed classes need to consider more than one side of any argument. And if only half of students are adding to class conversations, are all students really getting the most out of the 45 minute experience? So is it any wonder why some students find the classes pointless or a waste of time?
While a majority of students agree affective ed at Milton is not up snuff, there is not agreement on how to ameliorate these issues. For example, 57% of students felt that standardizing the curriculum across teachers and sections would not help these classes. So the question remains, how do we fix classes people think teach important topics while respecting the differences between teachers and class compositions? From people’s responses, the clearest solution seems to be a bottom up model where discussion is generated from the students themselves. With agency put onto the class, these courses can become a mediated forum for classmates to discuss and delve deeper into issues they might not otherwise confabulate about.
Although we on the editorial board will not be able to experience any potential future changes to affective ed at Milton, we hope that the administration will consider reviewing these courses and redesigning them so that they will not only purport to be useful but also be viewed as such.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=8625