McFarland student advocates for more focus on creativity in English classes

February 20, 2024 /

By Dulce Valenzuela

In the U.S., there is a nationwide emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. During grades K-12, students are taught the fundamentals of STEM and are given opportunities to explore an interest in it through focused electives and oftentimes summer camps. 

While the STEM curriculum has sound support, other curriculums aren’t as consolidated in the state of California. California’s education system fails to designate funding for creative pathways that would parallel the funding for STEM-based pathways. This disproportionate implementation prevents students from discovering latent capacities and stimulating artistic individuality, among a multiplicity of other benefits. 

Only recently did the state implement a proposition (Proposition 28) that would designate increased funding for the creative arts. Yet, this proposition hasn’t been actualized in a considerable amount of marginalized areas. 

At McFarland High School, English covers the essential standards of English on an even basis across varying levels of comprehension. However, it isn’t involved with a non-academic course level that would effectively complement it, reflecting the precise circumstances in Kern County and throughout the state. 

“It’s a state of California problem where they’ve taken a lot of the funner aspects of English — poetry, creative writing, and the like — out of the curriculum. So, schools don’t really have a reason to spend time on it even though it’s the most interesting and attention-gathering thing because storytelling and creative storytelling is a fundamental part of every culture,” commented Christopher Pelletier, MHS’s AP English and History teacher. 

Pelletier harbors an appreciation for the complex aspects of English.  He also elaborated on what makes his position as an English teacher compelling. 

“I love watching students grow over time, as they get more confident, more skilled, and more capable of expressing themselves, especially in the form of writing,” Pelletier said.

McFarland recently effectuated a dual enrollment program with Bakersfield College (BC) that permits students to take college courses and earn college credits. This can allow students to earn Career and Technical Education Certificates, General Education Certificates, and/or Associate Degrees by the time they graduate from McFarland.

McFarland’s dual enrollment counselor, Jill Jimenez, references this as one of the reasons why MHS hasn’t considered the addition of a new elective. Nevertheless, Jimenez implies that MHS can appraise the option if the student body exhibits a request for it. 

“If we have the space, if we also have open periods in our master schedule and teachers that can teach it, I’m sure that that’d be something that we can consider,” said Jimenez, providing an optimistic insight into the prospect of it.  

MHS should give thought to such a possibility as it entails numerous academic benefits. These include improvements in reading fluency, writing, and eloquence (verbal/communication skills). It also enables students to express themselves artistically as individuals. Thus, English would be a perfect incorporation into MHS’s advanced curriculum.

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