World Religions is the elective you never knew you needed

Current students and Mr. Peterson discuss the popular and heavily sought-after World Religions elective.

Aïssata Koné ‘23, Contributor

Mr. Dan Peterson is well-loved as a ninth grade English teacher, but more widely recognized as the instructor of World Religions. Current and former students alike rave over the course. So what is it that makes the course so popular?

As a high schooler, it is easy to lose yourself in the curriculum. We commonly forget to break up our schedules with interesting and fun electives. With so many amazing elective choices, it’s difficult to find one that suits your interests. 

But one size fits all in Room 206. 

The World Religions course is open to any upperclassmen with no prerequisites. It is known especially for its unique and powerful impact on graduating seniors. 

“If you want to get a lot from it you can get so much, but if you want a relaxing block this is also for you,” senior Emma Wei said.

There are no essays or tests, allowing students to learn intrinsically. Mr. Peterson emphasizes learning and having fun. 

“It’s almost like a mixed media course,” said senior Winnie Kenney.

While the title of the class suggests that the course is a theology class, Mr. Peterson suggests the course is more of an open space for students to talk about meaningful topics. 

Mr. Peterson says he wants students to “foster an openness and curiosity about all of life, not just religion.” 

However, if you are, in fact, interested in learning about different religions, students say this is the place to do it. With two field trips, Socratic seminars, guest speakers, and plenty of interactive projects, you are bound to learn something.

Students say their favorite trip was visiting a Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Philadelphia where they met a world-famous monk, Losang Samten. 

“Losang Samten is like the best person I’ve ever met in my life,” Wei said.

“He was awesome,” Kenney added.

According to former students, encountering Losang is not only rare but also comforting in nature.

“If you’ve been there, you know. But if you haven’t, you’re like, ‘Oh, that sounds neat.’ But it’s more than ‘it sounds neat’,” said Mr. Peterson.

The unique learning-centered nature of the course is what separates it from more strict academic electives and attracts students from all backgrounds. It is known to connect students who may have never had a class together before and that span grade levels. 

Overall the buffet-style course seems to gain great interest from the student body, and one can see why: It’s all you can eat.