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One too many could shatter the glass house: the honors debacle

Posted By Liana Butchard On April 15, 2011 @ 1:16 am In Features | Comments Disabled

By Liana Butchard
and Jesse Feldstein
3.34, 4.56, and 2.51 may just seem like numbers, but to some high school students at Newton South these numbers are their future.
“How many honors are you taking?”
As we start course registration for the 2011-2012 year, this seems to be the question that everyone is asking.  Some people love answering this with the long list of difficult classes that they are taking next year.
This isn’t true for other students, however,  and hearing this bragging often produces a winner and a victim.  There is the assumption that everyone takes many honors classes, but this corollary is more a myth than a fact.
South is quite an academically competitive high school and many students push themselves very hard.  The question is: how hard is too hard?
There are many factors that should be considered before students add an honors class to their schedules.
There seems to be common thought that everyone takes honors classes.
“Only about half of the students at South take honors classes.  You can get into good schools [colleges] without them,” guidance counselor Lenny Libenzon said.
With all of the pressure that is put on so many students, it seems that some of them should just take a deep breath and relax.
The classes that you take are not going to take over the path for what you do later in life.  That being said, slacking off isn’t answer either; the point is to try hard, but don’t kill yourself.
Other interests such as sports are important, too.  Freshman Daniel Friedman plays soccer, wrestles, and runs track, meaning that he already has a lot going on in addition to his school work.  “I want to stay a three season athlete, and doing a bunch of honors classes would be too much for me,” Friedman said.
Numerous students are enrolled and continue to enroll in honors courses.  Sophomore Kitty Crowley is taking two honors courses, and she finds them to be interesting and stimulating.
“I pick honors courses based on whether or not I like them. The GPA is just an extra boost,” Crowley said.
She believes that being interested in a subject is what should factor into whether or not a student takes an honors course. When Crowley makes her choice, she thinks about what will interest her regardless of what her teachers suggest.
This year Kitty is taking honors chorus because she likes singing and music. Crowley figures, “If I was going to do it, why not get the extra credit? I enjoy chorus, and that is why I signed up, and the boosted GPA isn’t bad either.”
Another thing to consider is the time commitment.
Taking an honors class usually means at least an hour or two of homework per night.  That’s not too bad for one or two classes, but any more and it will really start to add up.
Staying up to all hours of the night isn’t a good idea.
Most doctors say that teenagers need eight and one half to nine hours of sleep per night to really excel during the day.  Countless hours of homework won’t get you even close to that.
Many teachers like the Goldrick House-Master Mr. Turner agree that taking more difficult classes and then staying up way too late is not a good plan.  “Honors classes are very challenging and require a lot of outside class time.   Staying up until one or two o’clock every night is not realistic,” Turner said.
Taking this into consideration, some students plan their schedule around getting extra time during the day to get homework done. Take freshman Anna Alsop who has chosen to take four honors classes next year, but is leaving several potential elective blocks open, so that she can have time do get work done during the school day.  “Right now I want to take as many honors classes as I can, but I’m leaving a lot of time to deal with the workload.  If I plan out my time then I think that I will be fine,” Alsop said.
Many students will take an honors class in a subject that they hate just for the honors credit.  “I’m not going to take an honors class just to take it.  The honors classes that I’m taking are ones that I’m actually interested in,” freshman Emily Kaufman said.
If a class or subject is enjoyable or interesting, then it is probably more likely that one would take away a lot from it.
Kaufman thinks that it is silly to stress over an honors class that you don’t even remotely like or want to take.
And the classes are stressful: “The more that you take, the more stressful it will be,” Turner said.
Many students are often stuck in a conundrum about whether or not they will fit in the new learning environment.
For all the irresolute students sophomore Jack Rice offers some personal advice. “I worry about what suits me. What am I capable of doing? It is absolutely an individual choice. Teachers and parents should only offer a suggestion, but I decide what classes I take,” said Rice.
Often times, however, a student’s decision is influenced by the thoughts of a teacher.
Christopher Jackson, a world language teacher at Newton South has been helping students make their choices for years.
“It is only more work for no reason if you do not enjoy the material. That is why a student must express interest before I talk to them about the option of honors,” remarked Jackson.
Jackson believes the “atmosphere is more productive” in an honors course because each student is genuinely devoted to the curriculum.
“That doesn’t mean there is less stress. Students have to pick and choose because if they took all honors it would simply be too overwhelming,” said Jackson. “Ultimately students get more out of it and every method of teaching just seems to work in my honors classes.”
Jackson believes that the enthusiasm is increased in an honors environment and the teachers are happy which in turn makes the students happy.
In the end, the power is in the hands of each student. Regardless of how many—if any—honors classes you are planning on taking, they are something to think about carefully.
Course selection is just one of many challenging decisions each student makes throughout their career at Newton South. Perhaps this decision can be utilized as a rare opportunity for a challenge.

By Liana Butchard and Jesse Feldstein3.34, 4.56, and 2.51 may just seem like numbers, but to some high school students at Newton South these numbers are their future. “How many honors are you taking?”   As we start course registration for the 2011-2012 year, this seems to be the question that everyone is asking.  Some people love answering this with the long list of difficult classes that they are taking next year.  This isn’t true for other students, however,  and hearing this bragging often produces a winner and a victim.  There is the assumption that everyone takes many honors classes, but this corollary is more a myth than a fact. South is quite an academically competitive high school and many students push themselves very hard.  The question is: how hard is too hard?  There are many factors that should be considered before students add an honors class to their schedules.There seems to be common thought that everyone takes honors classes.  “Only about half of the students at South take honors classes.  You can get into good schools [colleges] without them,” guidance counselor Lenny Libenzon said.  With all of the pressure that is put on so many students, it seems that some of them should just take a deep breath and relax. The classes that you take are not going to take over the path for what you do later in life.  That being said, slacking off isn’t answer either; the point is to try hard, but don’t kill yourself.  Other interests such as sports are important, too.  Freshman Daniel Friedman plays soccer, wrestles, and runs track, meaning that he already has a lot going on in addition to his school work.  “I want to stay a three season athlete, and doing a bunch of honors classes would be too much for me,” Friedman said.Numerous students are enrolled and continue to enroll in honors courses.  Sophomore Kitty Crowley is taking two honors courses, and she finds them to be interesting and stimulating.“I pick honors courses based on whether or not I like them. The GPA is just an extra boost,” Crowley said. She believes that being interested in a subject is what should factor into whether or not a student takes an honors course. When Crowley makes her choice, she thinks about what will interest her regardless of what her teachers suggest.  This year Kitty is taking honors chorus because she likes singing and music. Crowley figures, “If I was going to do it, why not get the extra credit? I enjoy chorus, and that is why I signed up, and the boosted GPA isn’t bad either.”Another thing to consider is the time commitment.  Taking an honors class usually means at least an hour or two of homework per night.  That’s not too bad for one or two classes, but any more and it will really start to add up.  Staying up to all hours of the night isn’t a good idea.  Most doctors say that teenagers need eight and one half to nine hours of sleep per night to really excel during the day.  Countless hours of homework won’t get you even close to that.  Many teachers like the Goldrick House-Master Mr. Turner agree that taking more difficult classes and then staying up way too late is not a good plan.  “Honors classes are very challenging and require a lot of outside class time.   Staying up until one or two o’clock every night is not realistic,” Turner said.Taking this into consideration, some students plan their schedule around getting extra time during the day to get homework done. Take freshman Anna Alsop who has chosen to take four honors classes next year, but is leaving several potential elective blocks open, so that she can have time do get work done during the school day.  “Right now I want to take as many honors classes as I can, but I’m leaving a lot of time to deal with the workload.  If I plan out my time then I think that I will be fine,” Alsop said.Many students will take an honors class in a subject that they hate just for the honors credit.  “I’m not going to take an honors class just to take it.  The honors classes that I’m taking are ones that I’m actually interested in,” freshman Emily Kaufman said.  If a class or subject is enjoyable or interesting, then it is probably more likely that one would take away a lot from it. Kaufman thinks that it is silly to stress over an honors class that you don’t even remotely like or want to take.  And the classes are stressful: “The more that you take, the more stressful it will be,” Turner said.Many students are often stuck in a conundrum about whether or not they will fit in the new learning environment. For all the irresolute students sophomore Jack Rice offers some personal advice. “I worry about what suits me. What am I capable of doing? It is absolutely an individual choice. Teachers and parents should only offer a suggestion, but I decide what classes I take,” said Rice.Often times, however, a student’s decision is influenced by the thoughts of a teacher. Christopher Jackson, a world language teacher at Newton South has been helping students make their choices for years.“It is only more work for no reason if you do not enjoy the material. That is why a student must express interest before I talk to them about the option of honors,” remarked Jackson. Jackson believes the “atmosphere is more productive” in an honors course because each student is genuinely devoted to the curriculum.“That doesn’t mean there is less stress. Students have to pick and choose because if they took all honors it would simply be too overwhelming,” said Jackson. “Ultimately students get more out of it and every method of teaching just seems to work in my honors classes.”Jackson believes that the enthusiasm is increased in an honors environment and the teachers are happy which in turn makes the students happy.In the end, the power is in the hands of each student. Regardless of how many—if any—honors classes you are planning on taking, they are something to think about carefully.  Course selection is just one of many challenging decisions each student makes throughout their career at Newton South. Perhaps this decision can be utilized as a rare opportunity for a challenge.

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URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/one-too-many-could-shatter-the-glass-house-the-honors-debacle/

URLs in this post:

[1] Honors Courses: how much is too much?: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/03/24/honors-courses-how-much-is-too-much/

[2] Honors orchestra raises expectations: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/honors-orchestra-raises-expectations/

[3] Balance the grading equation: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/12/19/balance-the-grading-equation/

[4] Department considers World History & Economics classes: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/department-considers-world-history-economics-classes/

[5] Girls in math and science: do the numbers add up?: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/girls-in-math-and-science-do-the-numbers-add-up/

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