Requiring two classes, expanding more minds


Heather Miller

A wall of Human Rights in Mr. Prangen’s room.

Heather Miller, Editor in Chief

Currently, Lemont High School offers Human Rights & World Affairs (Social Studies Department) and both Humanities I and II (English Department) as electives. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are allowed to take one, two, or all three of these courses.  However, I firmly believe that it should be a requirement to take either Human Rights or Humanities (or both) to graduate.

There are already requirements depending on each grade level. However, there are no required classes for juniors that are only one semester long. For seniors, only American Government and American Problems are required. These two subjects can easily fit into any schedule and are very important for students to be aware of; one of them is informative of the world and the other is informative of thought.

Junior year, I took Humanities I and senior year, I took Human Rights & World Affairs. Both classes have expanded my mindset and offered such a new perspective on life outside of Lemont. I signed up to take Humanities II and was heartbroken to find out that it was cut due to a lack of interested students.

The sad thing is that many students are interested in this topic but do not take a class to expand their knowledge on this subject. Currently, in AP Literature, our class has daily discussions about philosophy, yet not many of these students have signed up for a class solely about this subject for an entire semester. The problem is that these kids aren’t aware that this class is offered or are afraid to take it despite their interests in the topic. If Humanities I were to be an option to fulfill a requirement, then more students would be aware of the subject and therefore interested in taking Humanities II, helping it avoid the temporary chopping block each semester.

Mr. Prangen, the Social Studies Department Chair and the only teacher of Human Rights, is in accordance. “Of course I believe that Humanities or Human Rights should be required. I think that both classes could [offer] the ability to take different angles of subject matter that are not [on the] more ‘traditional’ roads,” said Prangen.

He also agrees that this requirement should be geared towards upperclassman. “I think that our students.. could benefit from a more worldly, global perspective and I’d like to see a class like this specifically aimed towards juniors or seniors,” said Prangen. He also said, “[The] Advantage of Human Rights is that [students are] taking a look at contemporary, global issues pertaining to human rights. That gives students a greater frame of reference [for] when they go to college to write about and think about.”

He does believe the each class fits well as being semester-long credits and would also like to see a class geared towards Model United Nations – as the sequel to Human Rights – added to the wide variety of social studies classes offered at Lemont.

Courses like these are extremely beneficial to the students taking them; not only would they be fulfilling a requirement to graduate, but they would be gaining so much knowledge on important subjects that are essential for those going to college. Many private universities have philosophy requirements and it would behoove the students to have prior knowledge on the subject. Awareness of human rights is essential and can encourage students to study or travel abroad, as well as take interest in humanitarian work such as with the Peace Corps or other various mission organizations.

These classes also offer vast amounts of expression to take place. Whether it be by finding philosophies in modern society or trying to solve worldwide issues with humanity, students can use technology and their own creativity to form projects or presentations to encompass all of these ideas. “[They allow a] greater ability [for] students to create. I think creating is the highest form of cognition that we have and so the more that we allow for that to take place, the better that is,” said Prangen, agreeing that these classes permit creative ability and allow students to get the best out of the whole experience.

Both of these courses aren’t taught traditionally; they are more discussion based and allow the students to ask and discuss difficult yet important questions. This skill alone is so important for secondary education classes and can even be utilized in high school classes as well, such as in English. They both contain information unknown to most teenagers and this requirement would allow our students to be more cultured and informed of the world around them.

This global perspective brought to students by these two classes is essential. Both courses have been beyond eye opening. For someone who barely leaves Lemont, I never knew about so many major global issues nor did I know about how many different belief systems there are. Knowing what I know now, I find myself more confident in my answers, beliefs, and ideas which is beneficial in several of my classes, such as knowing about global conflicts from Human Rights and being able to talk about them in American Government. These classes give students the edge needed to succeed in the classroom and should be considered to become graduation requirements for our student body.