by Moshe Creditor
Over the course of one’s high school career, a Leffell School student will take around 32 different courses. That means over 160 courses remain.
TLS’s current curriculum contains 117 single-semester courses and 83 full-year courses. Single semester courses offered are most commonly electives, such as Computer Science or Jewish History. Full-year courses are primarily composed of typical academic courses, such as science, math and history. Some students prefer one-semester courses because they help keep their year-round schedules organized, while others believe that two-semester courses provide a more comprehensive overview of a particular topic.
“I would rather switch halfway through the year because it allows for more diversity [in classes],” sophomore Oz Haimovich said. “It also allows for new work and more relationships [with teachers and classmates].”
On the other hand, junior Elijah Gilbert prefers frequent grading segments and report cards to show improvement.
“It shows more growth in my grades if I start to do better,” Gilbert said. “Sometimes I do badly on the first few tests, and it’s really hard to get my grade back up from there with a cumulative grade.”
A student’s perspective on varied length courses can be very different from a faculty member’s perspective, mainly due to the types of workload they handle throughout the school year.
“Year-long classes are great because you can get really comfortable in your routine,” sophomore dean Rina Schulberg said. “It takes some students a longer time to get comfortable in class and gives them the opportunity to really settle in and be confident. Students are also more able to form a strong relationship with their teacher.”
Schulberg also said that for those who want more in-depth learning, half-year courses could be advantageous.
“[One semester-courses] have a more narrow focus compared to some of the broader full-year courses,” Schulberg said. “In our school, students typically get to choose the half-year courses that they take, allowing them to learn something that really interests them. Sometimes a subject isn’t very interesting or is challenging for a student, or sometimes a teacher isn’t a great fit for a student, which might make a [year-long course] feel even longer than it is.”
One variable that can influence a student’s opinion on a class is the speed at which the class covers material.
“If a course isn’t going well, a half-year course allows for a fresh start,” Rabbinics teacher Rabbi Eliezer Lawrence said. “I think a major pro of full-year courses is that they allow for a classroom dynamic and learning momentum that builds itself both on content and synergetic levels. It might take some time to settle into a new course, and the transition from one to another might be hard for some students.”
Luckily for students and teachers with varying viewpoints, there are plenty of options to choose from.