Cameron Yuen-Shore, Director of Special Projects
“Cam…..when will the electives be posted?”
“Cam….what time do you think we’ll find out our electives today?”
“Cam....I know they’re not posted yet, but do you know which elective I’m going to be in???”
For one week at the beginning of each semester I get to feel like the most popular middle school employee that’s ever walked the halls at Brandeis. After hearing about all of the elective options, students fill out choice forms and eagerly, if not always patiently … wait. At first I wrote off this avalanche of questions as the status quo approach tweenagers take to anything and everything they’re interested in. If they want it, they want it now. Snack, feedback on a quiz, more snack, etc. Caring about an administrative timeline, process, or protocol is not at the top of a middle schooler’s priorities. However, I’ve started to notice a different feeling around the electives in assemblies and those one-off conversations with students. There is a palpable buzz students feel when given the agency to choose part of their class slate, and each one of those questions is a window into that student excitement.
When I read in the 2023 Strategic Plan that “the school gives students agency in their learning by allowing them to design their own meaningful projects and curious pathways through learning,” I immediately think of the middle school electives. Want to learn how to manipulate images in Photoshop? Great! Build a bookcase out of a single board? Excellent! Fabricate a Rube Goldberg machine to set the table for Shabbat? We got it! Screen print on fabric, cook traditional Israeli cuisine, perform or tech crew a musical, publish a zine? Sign up! No matter what your curiosity, there are so many pathways for students to pick, it will make your head spin ...