[dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]D[/dropcap]uring the 90 minutes junior Keaton Lockett gets in his Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology class every other day, he learns more than just the scientific study of the behavior of people. It is the connections he makes outside of the classroom that makes AP Psychology such a fascinating course. In every class, students are taught a specific curriculum, however, some classes impact students’ lives outside of school.
“Studying [psychology] can improve your capacity to empathize,” AP Psychology teacher Bryn Orton said. “You come to understand why people act and feel the way they do even if they’re acting and feeling in a way that is completely counter to the way [you’re] acting and feeling.”
Like Orton, Susan Whitbourne, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts, believes psychology classes can have tremendous effects on students. They allow students to use what they learn in classrooms and apply it to the real world, Dr. Whitbourne said. Additionally, psychology courses allow for students to learn more about themselves in areas such as cognition, motivation, development, emotion and personality.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), AP Psychology helps students understand how their minds work, allowing them to have a better understanding of their surroundings and their own behavior. This knowledge can help a psychology student make decisions and avoid stress more effectively than a student who has never taken the class.[quote]“The study skills that you take from class are impeccable,” Lockett said. “By learning how we create memories, you can learn how to study effectively. Tests become easier due to your knowledge of overconfidence.”[/quote]
Stress is a common known problem among teenagers especially in high school due to school work and assignments like tests. A 2013 survey from the APA found that stress is extremely common among teenagers.
“AP [psychology] has changed the way I look at people’s responses to stress,” Lockett said. “Whenever we look [at] the news, I am able to pick out emotions and reactions from what is happening.”
Having a new outlook can change an individual’s perspective on life. According to Psychology Today, a psychology class can also give individuals an insight into the complexities of the political and social world.
“The one question that we need to ask ourselves when trying to be objective is, ‘What would the other side think or view?” Lockett said.
The ability to utilize what a student learns in school in his or her life is essential for many classes. Psychology focuses on how to be empathetic and why someone may think or feel the way he or she does. This can help students better interact with their friend groups, family, school and even future workplaces. What some students don’t realize is the scientific way of why the world is the way it is.
These skills are important because it will help students solve conflicts and resolve miscommunications among their peers. Being empathetic for other people is a good characteristic trait to develop.
“[Psychology] gives you a sense of perspective that, for me at least, has a calming effect,” Orton said. “The world seems like a much more chaotic and confusing place when you don’t understand the underlying psychological factors that contribute to the issues facing our world.”
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