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the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

Every school needs a psychology course

Schools that lack a psychology course inhibit their students by not introducing them to a crucial field of study.
Psychology is an important facet in becoming a true scholar, so why do schools not offer this course?
Sarabeth Wester
Psychology is an important facet in becoming a true scholar, so why do schools not offer this course?

The brain. The most important organ in the body. It allows humans to think, feel, speak, and operate as complex, capable of incredible things. So why is a class focused on the study of the brain and human behavior not offered in all high schools? And above that, why is the one course that is— AP Psychology— being effectively banned in states like Florida? And what do high school students lose as a result?

There are certain classes that provoke interest in students more than others. Courses in humanities and social sciences offer students an in-depth analysis of world events, an understanding of society and human beings, and a fostering of skills that can be applied in the real world.

In an article from August 3rd in The Wall Street Journal, they offered a simple summary of the controversy over the AP Psychology course in the state of Florida, a reality that left many Floridians in shock over the removal of the course.

According to the College Board, the article reads, “Florida has ‘effectively banned’ the Advanced Placement Psychology high-school course because it includes content on sexual orientation and gender identity, the College Board said Thursday.”

According to the Journal, those sections of the class “violate state law,” and while it’s not banned outright, schools that choose to teach it could find themselves in murky waters.

AP Psychology is one of the most popular courses the official College Board offers.

The course offers students the opportunity to learn more about the human mind and human behavior at an advanced placement level. Students spend a year connecting psychological concepts and understanding behavioral processes. Although the class is rigorous, it is also extremely popular(shown by the link above).

After the signing of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in March 2022, Governor Ron Desantis continued his interest in changing the curriculum of Florida public schools by attempting to ban AP Psych. Although the ban was never completed, due to laws enacted that affect the topics in the class, the course has still been absent in many public schools this year.

In a memo sent out on August 2023 by the College Board, the Board indicated the problem with the course in Florida and advised that teachers not teach it:

“To be clear, any AP Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either Florida law or college requirements. Therefore, we advise Florida districts not to offer AP Psychology until Florida reverses their decision and allows parents and students to choose to take the full course.”

The bottom line is that Florida public schools are being scared into not offering the course for fear of repercussions brought by the government.

Their reasoning, although controversial, boils down to what is included in the curriculum of the class. In the official AP Psychology syllabus, a unit is focused on specifically gender identity and the background of psychology for someone identifying their gender and sexual orientation.

Although this unit of the course has been a part of the official syllabus for 30 years, a recent investigation of the teachings, along with the culture war that is unraveling in America, has led certain government officials and parents to be uncomfortable with the content being taught to adolescents.

As students are the ones signing up to take the class each year, they deserve to have input into their own education, regardless of governmental enforcement.

Alex McLemore, a senior at Saint Stephen’s interested in psychology, feels a psychology class is crucial for the development of high school students.

“The greatest minds throughout history have been experts in human behavior. Everyone in this world would benefit from taking a psychology course,” McLemore said.

Because of the lack of a psychology course at Saint Stephen’s, McLemore went out of his way to create his own “Independent Study” this year, focusing on psychology.

Without a psychology course offered, high school students miss out on a crucial subject that can be implemented for the rest of their lives. Having a better understanding of themselves and others can benefit adolescents for years to come.

In the end, what is best for the student is what should be best for everyone. The Florida government, parents, and teachers need to realize the importance of students’ education and their knowledge of how people interact. Without classes like psychology, students lose a valuable well rounded education. Government censorship, although in small amounts, can be beneficial to citizens, it is important to be cautious with altering teenagers’ education.

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About the Contributors
Milaan Smith, Staff Writer, Social Media
Milaan Smith is a senior on the Gauntlet where her position consists of being a creative  staff writer. In her free time she enjoys going to the beach, sleeping, and rewatching Superbad for the twentieth time. Her favorite artists are Drake, Lil Wayne, and Mac Miller.
Sarabeth Wester, Creative Director/Artist
Sarabeth Wester is a senior on The Gauntlet with four years under her belt of hard work in the newsroom as our Creative Director. Her favorite color is purple, she has a cat and a dog who she loves dearly, and she plays video games in her free time - her favorite being Fallout 4 even with it's imperfections. Her favorite movies are Days of Thunder, Top Gun, and Wall-E - she believes everyone should watch them at least once.  

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