Contemporary classes

Mr. Nicholas Beckmann goes about a different way of teaching with his contemporary issues classes.


Francis Lunatto

Opening his class with a discussion about the previous day’s news, Contemporary Issues teacher Nick Beckmann addresses his class. The class focuses on making sure students are aware of what is going on in the world around them.

Shelby Ralston looks forward to sixth hour everyday as she crams into room 130 with nearly 30 other students, getting settled in for Contemporary Issues, a class covering everything from current events in news and the media, to government, bias, and American history.

Contemporary Issues is a discussion based, strongly student led class with an ever changing curriculum, taught by Mr. Nicholas Beckmann. Senior Shelby Ralston, along with classmates including seniors Jacob Nolan and Ilene Holder, come into class everyday not knowing what to expect. In Beckmann’s opinion, this is what adds to the appeal of the class.

“It’s just a really cool, unique class,” Mr. Beckmann said. “It’s makes kids think.”

Holder agrees with this, saying it is also good to have a class to learn what’s going on not only in America, but all around the world, and it’s really this class that sparked her interest of current events.

“You start learning more about where you stand and what you believe in,” said Holder.

In a time that Mr. Beckmann pegged our generation’s Vietnam, he says it is important for students to discuss current events, and more importantly to have an understanding of what’s going on in the world and form opinions on those things.

“If you’re getting mad, it’s because you care,” Mr. Beckmann said, “I want kids to care. I want kids to feel like it’s important.”

Even though Beckmann’s classroom is home to many heated debates as students become more invested in issues, Nolan described Contemporary Issues as light hearted and fun.

“It’s just a bunch of shared opinions,” Nolan said, “And it’s good to hear other people’s opinions and what other people think.”

While this course doesn’t involve the rigor and homework like that of an AP or honors class, Mr. Beckmann says sometimes that isn’t what a student need, and Contemporary Issues can still be a helpful class down the line.

 “Students need a class where they can come in and learn about current things,” Beckmann said. “What I’ve learned in the short amount of time I’ve taught this class is that kids don’t know anything about what’s going on.”

 Ralston agrees, saying before taking Contemporary Issues, she had no idea what was happening or where she stood, and she’s glad to have taken the class.

 “I can actually learn what’s happening now,” Ralston said. “We’re always doing something and learning something everyday.”

 Across the classroom, every student has eyes fixated on Beckmann, and few students stay silent while discussing the topic of the day, whether they are debating with Beckmann or the people around them. As described by Ralston, every student is there because they want to be, not because they have to be, and that’s what really makes this class unique.

“I think this class will have an effect on kids, especially as we turn 17 or 18,” Ralston said. “You just have to pay attention, in class and around the world.”