Point-Counterpoint: Seminar is essential


Kaylyn Aulick and McKenna Herman

Seminar is a Waste of time

By Kaylyn Aulick

I have an idea. We should have a required class where students watch YouTube videos, play games on their phones, and hang out with their friends. 

   Sounds stupid, right? Well we already have this class. It’s called seminar, and for most West Ottawa students, seminar is not time well spent.

   Theory: Students have time to catch up on assignments from any of their classes.

   Reality: Students do not spend much time working on assignments. Most students work on assignments for ten minutes, but then spend the rest of their time doing something useless. Of course, most students love seminar because they love wasting time. What does this generation love more than spending time on devices and hanging out with friends? Nothing. Students are going to defend seminar with all their breath, but not because they are working on assignments. They will defend their time for goofing around and doing nothing.

   Theory: Students can transfer to their teachers’ classes where they can ask about any confusion from topics or assignments covered in class.

   Reality: Students may transfer to their teachers’ classrooms, but the responsibility falls on the teacher. Teachers have to check in with their students constantly to make sure they understand the work they need to get done. In many situations, teachers request their students, but the students leave, griping about how they don’t want to go. When they get to their teacher’s room, they don’t do anything until the teacher tells them to. Often teachers have to explain something students should have done in class. Many students don’t use class time wisely, so teachers have to get on their case during seminar so the work gets done. 

   Theory: With all different grade levels in seminar classes, students are able to get help from someone who has already taken the class.

   Reality: Very few students ask others for help. When I was a freshman, people would always tell me how great it was that I would have people in my class from all different grades. As a junior now, I can say I have never asked questions to any students in my seminar. I rarely even speak to them at all. Jr. Mackaylee Steeves-Antone says she’s asked questions to “other people in different grades, yes, but not in [her] seminar.” When she observes her seminar, she sees people talking to “their friends but that’s it.” 

   Theory: Students can connect with a group to work on projects.

   Reality: Students do connect with their groups, but they don’t usually get work done. Either they request friends just to hang out, or they request group members, work on the project for a few minutes, and then do nothing for the rest of the time. Most aspects of group projects take a while to finish, so during seminar, only small things get done. Afterward, the group members just do nothing. Often, students use a group project as an excuse to get their friends to come to their seminar, but instead they just hang out. 

   Theory: Students can use seminar time to complete tests or quizzes.

   Reality: Students actually do take tests and quizzes that they missed during seminar, making this theory a reality. This wouldn’t be a fair argument if I didn’t admit this strength of seminar. Instructor Daniel Dennis says if it weren’t for seminar, he “would have to find time after school or make time in class” for students to complete tests and quizzes, but he likes to use the time seminar provides. 

   In theory, seminar is brilliant. But I live in the real world. Theory is not reality. Students do not use seminar time wisely. During seminar, work goes undone. Backpacks remain untouched. Forty minutes wasted.


Seminar is Essential to mental Health

By McKenna Herman

   The water slowly rises around me as the tiny eyot I’m standing on becomes smaller and smaller by the second.  I look up at the towering mountain in front of me, wondering how I would escape my watery death. Suddenly a quiet ringing sounds, what seems like, from the sky. The ringing gets louder and louder. It goes off in my ear and doesn’t stop. I slowly open my eyes to the familiar sight of my bedroom wall. My phone lay beside my pillow, blaring its song, which I have come to despise.

   Is it 6:15 already? My tired eyes try desperately to stay open. I give in to my exhaustion and lay my head back down on my pillow. I tell my body I need to get up and ready for the day, but it doesn’t listen.

   I stayed up until eleven last night due to multiple pages of school work. Seven hours of sleep compared to the suggested nine. 

   On my way to first hour, I saw students along the wall frantically trying to complete their homework. In my head, I went through my classes, double-checking if I had done the work. I was just another anxious high schooler.

   Schools seemed ignorant of this as every hour they flooded folders and backpacks with work. Until seminar.

   Seminar is a 40-minute break from this nightmare every Tuesday and Thursday. It gives students a quick mental break. During this time, students can relax or do school work.

   Seminar is beneficial, whether or not students spend their time academically.

   Every night I have at least a solid hour of homework, and I’m a jobless lower classmen taking no AP or IB classes. I do this after a two-and-a-half hour practice, a hello to my family, a shower, and dinner. 

   My little brother begs me to jump on the trampoline with him, and I wish I could. But an hour playing with one of the most important people in my life could cost me a missing assignment or a failing grade.

   Bedtime for me is around 10pm, and I know many people go to bed a lot later. Is it because they were messing around until late at night? No! It’s because they have hours of homework. Some of which isn’t graded for accuracy. Teachers look to see if the work was done and are satisfied. They don’t seem to realize that assignment took half an hour out of an overworked-student’s life. 

   It’s unreasonable for schools to suggest nine hours of sleep per night when they are giving students such an insane amount of work.

   This is one reason I am a fan of seminar. If I know that I have a lot of homework, I can work on it for the full time, and I’ll get a lot done. That just saved me 40 minutes of homework that I would have had to do at home. Instead, I can spend time with my family.

   But sometimes, the stress of school and other out-of-school-related problems becomes too much. I just need some time to clear my head and relax. Forty minutes to give my overwhelmed brain a break.

   This is how many students spend their seminar time: chilling. But, can you blame them? Students are in school nearly 35 hours a week. That’s only 10 hours less than the average American job. And we aren’t getting paid.

   While sitting in class on Thursday, I overheard a conversation regarding whether seminar was useful. As the calm discussion started to become an argument, I strained my ear to hear their opinions. One caught my attention:” Would you rather me be unfocused in one of my core classes?”

   I have found that some teachers get upset when students aren’t academically focussed during seminar. But our developing brains can only take so much. We will reach a point where we can’t listen any more or process any more information.

   Would you rather me be zoned out in one of my core classes or seminar? Eventually, it will be one or the other. And it might as well be during a period where I’m not learning any important information. 

   Some might say that seminar is a waste of time. “Some students just sit on their phones the whole time!”, they will argue. But, is that such a bad thing? They are just giving their brains a break.

   Students can either get work done without interruption, or relax without feeling guilty. Either way, seminar is beneficial.