Thus Endeth The Era Of The Iguana God


by Thomas P.

The dual-class structure of the Humanities, having been removed, has put paid to the unique experience that was the sole preserve of the freshman class. Humanities used to be a vital component of the freshman experience, giving not only class subdivisions that assisted in their handling but also a firm base of camaraderie that bonded all freshmen together – the essays were commiserate, the journals were shared, and all pitched a hand into the final. Humanities was also a period to calibrate around, a double period that modulated and metered the hectic pace of the school day.

Obviously the administration, progressive even to the brink, have thoughtfully developed the new English 9 and History 9 classes to be the best they can be. The new system is bright, sparkling, and ready to roll the new 9th graders forward. How good is this brand new model?

Firstly, it solves the obvious issue of the two-block period. The old system was clunky, and didn’t fit with the other one-block periods. “All we’ve done is align ourselves with every other course at OES”, says Mike Gwaltney, History Department chair. “We feel strongly that we can do history as well in the 50-55 minute block as science can do science or math can do math” This, of course, is a step forward in all respects. The new blocks are more mobile, more flexible, and most importantly a thousand times less stressful for the freshman class. “Having two periods in a row was so awful” says Bradley Crislip ’15.

Secondly, it improves the academics. “Humanities tended to be a little bit of an anomaly in our program”, says Rick Rees, English Department chair. “It wasn’t in line with the approach we took in other places”. The humanities was a mixture, that’s for sure, and many team teachers of the subject were under the impression that they were not teaching English or History but something in between. “{The new system} helps us build the skills we need to build in english and history in a cleaner way” says Rick Rees, “In this model I’m able to focus on my small group of kids and the skills that they need”.

Ultimately, though, the new English 9 and History 9 do not confer the same experience as Humanities used to. “Our intention is always to try to enhance what we do”, says Rick Rees, “Maintain an open mind about what we’re doing and where we’re going”. The experience of Humanities is over, but there is a there is a bright new age waiting.

“Humanities was an excellent course and has served students very well”, says Mike Gwaltney, “But we can’t let the good, or even the very good, become the enemy of the great, or the better”.

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