Why we should have class outside


Baxter Roberts

WJ students walk off-campus during the only break of the school day. Not until the end of the day will respite like this come again.

As spring rapidly approaches, students look to break out of the long winter funk. The problem is we are still locked inside our concrete learning boxes. We sit for 6 hours in a harsh, prison-like environment and are expected to focus with only one short break for lunch. Still many can’t make it outside because of clubs or missing work. The result is beleaguered students with no respite from the unforgiving industrial setting that is WJ. Let us out.

The benefits of the sunlight are well known. It can boost immune response, improve sleep quality and even reduce cancer risk. Benefits like this are compound by nature; The additional value grows exponentially over time. WJ students get no access to these benefits during the school day. We are effectively robbed of 6 hours of passive health perks that could go incredibly far in later life. The boost in base physical health alone should be enough to send classes outside. Even greater however is the mental factor.

The US school system is modeled after Prussian military culture. The idea was to “create docile subjects and factory workers.” The architecture of WJ exemplifies this concept. WJ is built somewhat like a prison. After the bell students are expected to stay in a study box for the next 45 minutes unless given leave by the teacher. This scheme is a far cry from individuality and creativity MCPS pushes for today. The school system is literally built to break down the unique character of each student to create a mindless mass of consumers. Class outside offers a small but meaningful escape from prison. Students are given an entirely new learning environment free from the trappings of an average classroom. In effect, all bets are off. Creativity can flow freely in a way impossible in an average classroom.

There are obvious constraints to class outside. Teachers need modern materials like Promethean Boards and computers to give lessons. In many cases students need desks for note taking and tests. I propose two possible solutions.

One is building a pavilion next to the portables. While expensive it could solve some of the issues about space and surface. Up to three classes could be in the pavilion at the same time enjoying nice weather. The pavilion could also build school spirit. The administration could hold charitable competitions for a chance for a class on the pavilion. This would not only boost student morale but also give back to the community. It’s a win win.

The other less exciting option is to let students out on Wildcat Wednesday. It’s already true that Wildcat Wednesday is supposed to be a break from new material. This has become somewhat perverted however. MCPS routinely gives surveys or activities when students are supposed to be resting. Teachers still teach despite their claims. To allow students outside is to give up the facade of Wildcat Wednesday. We would truly be given relaxation time to use how we please in an incorruptible manner.

Class outside has multiple benefits and almost no downsides. It’s only a matter of making the administration do something.