The Case for Electives in Schools
After all, electives are the one or two periods a day that students have had a voice in picking, and a thriving optional programme in middle and secondary schools should be considered just as precious as the core classes. I asked students in grades six through twelve across the country, as part of research I did for my most recent book, what types of learning activities most piqued their interest. The results showed that student choice performed quite well across the country. In addition, according to Robert Marzano, a researcher who specialises in the field of education, “choice has also been associated to increases in student effort, task performance, and subsequent learning.”
Nevertheless, the ability for students to select their own courses appears to be one of the elements that puts electives at risk.
When it comes to education funding, ebbs and flows are par for the course for many schools, which means budget cuts are also par for the course. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “As of the current 2017–18 school year, at least 12 states have cut ‘general’ or ‘formula’ funding—the primary form of state support for elementary and secondary schools—by 7 percent or more per student over the last decade.” This information is based on the school year that is currently taking place. In many instances, schools will turn to the classes that they consider to be superfluous as the first ones to be eliminated.
That entails elective classes for many people. To the contrary, I would like to challenge the notion that electives are in some way dispensable. In point of fact, there are those who would argue that they are just as important as the primary curriculum classes.
THE POWER OF CONNECTION
In addition, students said in the countrywide study that I carried out that they feel a greater sense of connection to the adults on campus is required. We spend a lot of time discussing how to differentiate between children, but we also need to differentiate between teachers and institutions. Our pupils will have an easier time connecting with school if they are made aware that there are many unique people at the school from whom they can get knowledge. Electives frequently mirror the interests of both the instructors who teach them and the students who select them as their preferred courses of study. This makes it possible for a pupil to automatically have a connection to an adult in the room that they have self-selected.
It was recently reported in the Journal of Educational Psychology that researchers found that when teachers and students were given information about five similarities they shared, the knowledge helped improve student-teacher relationships as well as academic achievement. The study involved almost 400 students and their 25 teachers. Researchers found that when teachers and students were given information about five similarities they shared, it helped improve academic achievement.
ELECTIVES SUPPORT CORE CLASSES
Electives have the potential to serve a dual purpose as delivery mechanisms for basic content standards. In addition, teachers have the ability to ensure that electives are not regarded as being less valuable than core classes by ensuring that electives contribute to the weight of teaching literacy together with core classes. Elective teachers are able to demonstrate that learning is taking place by performing the following three crucial actions:
When students read books that are connected to the elective topic, encourage them to annotate them.
Make use of pre and post tests to demonstrate development in your ability to comprehend informational reading connected to the topic.
Include both written and spoken presentations as a means of assisting students in communicating the material of the elective.
Classes such as yearbook, robotics, film society, photography, theatre, speech and debate, music appreciation, and current events can all incorporate reading, writing, listening, and speaking into their curriculum. In addition, each one of them appeals to a diverse group of kids while also allowing them to add a layer of self-directed involvement to the process of learning basic standards.
In addition to this, one of my goals is to broaden the scope of the electives that are available. If we deleted the grade point average prerequisite as well as any other prerequisites that enable students access, I believe this would assist dispel the misconception that electives are unnecessary and contribute to the elimination of the myth. After all, the selection procedure should not take precedence over the student’s ability to make their own choices.
The goals of our schools, which are to prepare our kids for college and careers, can benefit greatly by the participation of our students in a variety of elective activities. The ability to choose one’s own classes is reflective of the procedure that they will encounter once more in college.
WHEN TEACHERS ARE ENGAGED
Despite the fact that many people believe electives to be the less important part of a school, the truth is that they have the power to establish the culture of a campus and play a significant part in student involvement. In addition, the fact that they are so interesting helps keep our students on campus, particularly the students who aren’t really interested in learning and the ones who have academic difficulties.
However, the power of participation is not relegated solely to the students themselves. The continuation of teachers’ participation is another potential benefit of offering elective courses. Feeling like you’re burning out? Make a pitch for a course that you are interested in teaching and that you would really like instructing. Teach one that will help stoke the fire of your passion for teaching. The master schedules that are being developed with the assistance of teachers take into account a wide range of student interests, from gardening to digital storytelling. Make the learning experience in your classroom one that not only engages the students but also you as the teacher.