On the Ánimo Pat Brown website it says, “Preparing all students for college, leadership, and life.”
APB has done a fantastic job in making sure every student is drilled in with strategies to attack the tests necessary to get into the best colleges. But is that really
enough? Is that fulfilling every aspect of the APB mission? What about life and leadership?
Students are prepared weeks in advanced and time is made during guidance to practice test questions that are used on particular tests. When test day comes, the face of every student is composed and serious. Not only does confidence beam out of them, but the test scores are there to prove their right to feel that way.
Every new semester Principal Joshua Hartford holds an assembly for the entire school to evaluate on previous test scores. Sometimes we’re congratulated, but all the times we’re told to do even better. We’re compared to other public schools near and around the Los Angeles area like Fremont, Santee, and Jefferson. Interestingly enough we’re compared to schools that are obviously known to have low test scores and problems with their students.
Never have we been presented with otherschools that have high test scores or that continuously score more than average year after year. Who are the highest ranking schools? No clue.
What I find even more fascinating is the fact that many of the APB students are so happy that we beat out other high schools, but we beat out schools that might not even be considered “competition”. Graduates have repeated over and over again about the test scores, nothing more but the awesome high test scores, but what about life skills?
Do students ever realize that we all speak? No duh, right? Talking and getting messages across is important in daily life. So why is it that in school teenagers are afraid to speak their minds in class when all eyes are on them?
In English and History classes students are thrown into group discussions, or what they call a “Socratic”. In English there’s usually a book that must be discussed and we’re told over and over again to dig deeper, to get “under the surface”. When the actual speaking comes, either there are long silences until a brave students decides to speak or there is a speaker right away who repeats what it says in the book, mere paraphrasing.
Isn’t communication important for life as well? According to the website mindtools.com, “The purpose of communication is to get your message across to others clearly and unambiguously.” During the discussions there is no clarification questions asked so it is assumed that everything is understood. As the discussion continues though, it is not clear whether the students truly understand what is being said.
The teacher only provides guidance and makes sure everyone speaks the minimum limit so that the students get their points. The comment can be as simple as stating what someone else said and the teacher will remain silent, not asking for clarity or questions, not exactly pushing them to dig deeper. Many students take advantage of that, but is it really helping the discussion move on? Or more importantly is it helping the student speak more accurately and clearly to prepare them for life?
Advanced Placement classes are a completely different story. There are students who obviously look bored out of their mind in some of these classes, but decide to take a course for the college credit. Many might say that the point of these classes is, in fact, for the college credit, but have they forgotten all about the simple joy of knowledge and learning for the benefit of your own mind?
Advanced Placement classes should also be seen as an opportunity to explore areas that aren’t explored in regular classes. It is an opportunity to open your mind and broaden the view on life.
Not only does learning nourish your mind, it keeps you informed, and believe it or not subjects talked about in school are also talked about in the daily news. Being ignorant isn’t and shouldn’t be part of being a teenager. In fact, being informed makes you look less ignorant and can be beneficial to personal growth in maturity.
Learning in these classes is a privileg, getting the college credit is a bonus. Students in APB should see that life doesn’t revolve around numbers and rankings. Instead they should worry about the simple everyday skills that aren’t stressed enough.