It is almost time for students to start deciding which classes they are going to be taking next year. Many incoming juniors and seniors will get to choose between the traditional AP curriculum or the relatively new Forensics Core Program (FORCE), which Northwood teachers began this year. Even though FORCE lacks the AP “stamp of approval,” it has a lot (that’s perhaps more important) to offer: a relevant, adaptive and intelligent program driven by self-guided passions and interactive experiences.
By teaching forensics through a combination of scientific, psychological and literary lenses, the FORCE program is, in it of itself, an advocacy for better learning. Instead of just reading and discussing in class, students are encouraged to create their own intuitive projects with nontraditional learning mediums such as digital media, art and philosophy. This not only promotes an actively engaged environment, but it also allows students to familiarize themselves with the material in a way that helps them learn regardless of educational background.
“In FORCE, the way we’re learning allows us to gain an understanding about why we know things as opposed to just the what,” senior Daniel Lin said. “And we are able to apply this knowledge in real-world scenarios. For example, we’re employing what we learned in science about crime scene sketches to what’s happening in a scene from a book in English. And we’re also using psychology to diagnose the patient within the book.”
This makes students who take the FORCE curriculum stand as good of a chance, if not better, in the college application process. By approaching the world from a philosophical standpoint, then questioning the systems in place and finally critiquing them for reform, FORCE is just as challenging as anything with the AP label. And because the curriculum is less rigid and not necessarily geared towards end-of-the-year exams, teachers are able to provide an applicable learning experience that is ultimately more similar to what colleges have to offer.
“By taking the FORCE classes, you have already affirmed your pre-existing interest in the subject,” Lin said. “And, in doing so, you’re giving colleges what they want to see: someone who has taken an angled perspective in their initiative for adaptive learning. Even though FORCE doesn’t have an AP credit in front of it, if you come in here wanting to learn, you’ll probably get more out of these classes than you would from AP.”
And FORCE isn’t just for students who want to become criminologists. The classes appeal to a wide variety of interests, including natural science, political science, the humanities, sociology and philosophy. For students who are at all interested in forensics as a career path, FORCE offers valuable practice and a sense of what the work entails.
“The decision to join FORCE was a risk,” senior Calvin Calilung said. “But I think that I have a better idea of what I want to do now than before I took the program. And if I’m interested in pursuing a career in one of these specific topics, I also know the type of knowledge that I would need for the future and what I am actually doing for the world.”
While there is still much improvement to be made in the FORCE program in regards to funding, planning and cross-class coordination, there is no doubt that it has become a valuable addition to Northwood’s campus. Not only does it fill a void in intelligent and applicable learning, it also serves as a foundation for a new, innovative breed of standardized education.