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On behalf of the humanities

It’s 8:00 a.m. at Marlborough — brisk and damp due to the delicate drizzle of a California spring morning. As wind flurries down the outdoor corridor, students bustle towards the beacon of warmth that is the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), eager to finish reading assignments, written reflections and extended essays. Books and laptops in hand, they reach the door and step into the space, only to be met with utter noise and chaos.

Today at Marlborough, pre-professionalism has taken hold. Spurred by a vision of “cultivating purpose,” Marlborough has placed emphasis on the realms of tinkering and innovation, championing a spirit of entrepreneurship above all else. Perhaps most evidently, this mission has been demonstrated through the rebranded CEI, which was formerly the Academic Resource Center (ARC). That same space once hummed with the quiet sounds of keyboard clicks and pencil scratches: an official library both in presentation and purpose. Today, it bustles with the static of scrimmaging robots and lunchtime guest speakers, far removed from its previous academic focus.

But amid the business-focused Corner Cafe and the engineering-focused Special Projects in the Academic Resource Center (SPARC), what has happened to the once-towering bookshelves? In a larger sense, within a school-wide culture increasingly oriented towards business and STEM, what has happened to Marlborough’s dedication to subjects in the humanities? 

Beyond the CEI, this issue extends to the curriculum offered to students. In the 2022-2023 Course of Study, Marlborough offered a total of four AP courses in the English and history subjects (of the 11 English and history APs offered), as opposed to a total of seven AP courses in the math and science subjects (of the 13 math and science APs offered). Marlborough also offered only seven honors courses in the English and history subjects, as opposed to a total of 10 honors courses in math and science subjects. 

This dichotomy favors students who are passionate about math and science, as there are more opportunities for them to explore their interests through Marlborough’s many honors and AP course offerings in STEM subjects. Students passionate about English and history are not given this same opportunity. This slant may also affect the high school transcripts of humanities-oriented students, who are given fewer accelerated English and history courses, and therefore fewer opportunities to “boost” their GPAs in subjects where their interests lie. Innately, Marlborough’s course of study rewards students geared towards math and science, while hindering students geared towards English and history. 

Ernest Hemmingway with “Wuthering Heights,” Jane Austen with “The Corsair,” Ottessa Moshfegh with “Invisible Man:”  prominant authors, past and present, cite works from their high school curriculums as sources of inspiration for their careers. As a collective of writers and editors, we at the UltraViolet speak on behalf of the humanities students at Marlborough, the great writers and historians of the future. In Marlborough’s aim of shaping well-rounded students and cultivating a purposed and multifaceted student body — composed of both STEM and humanities students — we implore the administration to reevaluate the slant of its curriculum and moreover, the slant of its broader culture, and to promote and support not just subjects in STEM and business, but in the humanities as well. In following its mission of “cultivating purpose,” Marlborough must stay true to its core values and core subjects in their entirety.

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