The Problem with Physics: Why No Honors?

By Sarah Waters, Staff Writer

Since the replacement of Honor Physics with an expanded AP Physics course load, students have been torn between two polar opposites: both AP and regular level physics.

This dichotomy is problematic for a few reasons. First, students who would rather not take a regular course are forced to add to their AP load. This leads to the perception of more work for them and has maligned psychological effects: burnout, being overwhelmed, and feeling excessively stressed are never things a school should be okay with promoting.

The AP option also might make them dedicate time to something they aren’t necessarily as invested in. That causes trade-offs in other courses that students might enjoy taking more, like AP U.S. History or A.P. Great American Writers.

Furthermore, the absence of Honors Physics also prevents students who are more interested in physics from getting the attention and workload they may want. Since the class isn’t only the most dedicated students, the class might be held back and the teacher may be stressed trying to keep everyone in the same boat.

It doesn’t seem logical to me that during the year students have the greatest workload, they are made to take a level that’s much harder than what they’ve taken in the past, just because Niles west does not offer an Honors level. That adds to stress and can further put some students behind in their other classes, too — an oft-overlooked consequence of a sizable workload.

Many opponents of the Honors Physics class say the workload would be too similar to AP Physics to be considered as a separate class. It’s obvious it doesn’t have to be this way. The History department has found a way to meet every student’s needs with both and Honors-level U.S. History and AP U.S. History. The workload is smaller in Honors, as it should be.

There’s no reason the Physics department can’t do the same. If the curriculum is too similar, then perhaps we should consider decreasing the amount of work in the Honors version, as is done in every other course.