Reminiscing about my senior year of high school brings back memories of senior prom, riveting hockey playoffs, graduation gifts and most importantly, receiving my diploma. Upon closer examination, I realize that the majority of my senior year consisted of selfish acts and activities. Most post-secondary institutions and scholarships require students to write countless letters of boastful praise about the activities and groups that they are involved in, as well as ask teachers and confidants to write praiseworthy letters boasting of their student’s skills and attributes.
Compulsory courses in high school are centered around personal achievement and success. Since students are required to take courses such as mathematics and English, they are less likely to “close doors” to post-secondary education. Schedules are filled with courses such as physics, chemistry, biology and calculus for those who have intentions of attending a post-secondary institute, even though only one science credit is required to graduate for high school students in New Brunswick. A transcript that includes an abundance of science and math courses demonstrates to universities and colleges that the student is self-disciplined, responsible and conscientious.
With high school being such a competitive environment, it is no wonder that courses that are not compulsory are forgotten. There was one course that reminded me that regardless of my academic average or my class rank, graduating from high school is not only an accomplishment, but a privilege. World Issues 120 not only opened my eyes to the world of suffering, but changed my post-secondary focus from science to human rights.
This course was different from my other classes. It taught me a very important lesson; the most important thing anyone can learn is how to help others. All of my other courses were based on personal achievements . So much emphasis is placed on personal achievement that students are so busy with meeting expectations, they are completely ignorant and oblivious to the problems in the world that is spinning around them. The world issues course does not focus on what an individual student is capable of. Instead, it teaches that joining together to find a solution to a problem is the best chance of achievement.
I believe that World Issues 120 should be compulsory for high school students. If students were required to take this course, they would be educated about issues such as poverty, environmental concerns, and human suffering. Raising awareness about these issues is important, but it is equally important to teach students about groups and organizations which exist to eliminate global issues. This course does this and also teaches students that even small groups can make a huge difference by making positive changes in the world. I firmly believe that teenagers are passionate, capable people. Mandating enrollment in World Issues 120 could be the first step in motivating high school students to use their passion and intelligence to make social, political, economic and environmental issues a matter of the past.