Talking it Out: Juniors stay engaged in Mr. Dessert’s Theology class

Maria Nguyen, Staff Writer

Walking into a classroom, the typical atmosphere is usually an organized room with rows of neat desks, waiting to be filled by focused and attentive students. This is not the case with Mr. Dessert’s Theology classes, where the students are attentive for a different reason.

The first thing a student might notice when walking into the classroom is the absence of desks, replaced instead by tables lined around the room, positioned so the students can see each other’s faces. According to junior Dania Loredo, this simple connection allows for earnest discussion between the students and the teacher for class.

“We do a lot more discussion in this class and go more in depth,” Loredo said. “It’s more open to different ideas and it’s really interesting to look at all perspectives.” 

The style of teaching is the next aspect of Dessert’s class that deviates from the normal classroom. The involvement of students is a critical aspect of the discussion-based learning, and students are allowed to share their own stories, feelings, and opinions during the discussion. 

“In class, we talk about our different opinions instead of shouting them out,” junior Polly Ayala said. “We don’t just say what we think is right or wrong.”

To add on the thoughtful discussions and explorations of morality and theology, students watch a variety of films in class that focus on different aspects of moral dilemmas. This includes relevant topics about real-life problems such as racism and abortion.

“I feel that watching the films is a good way of bringing up the subjects,” Loredo said. “I think it’s an interesting way of doing it especially if you’re a visual learner.”

Juniors in Dessert’s Theology III classes have viewed seven films so far, each focused on moral problems that are usually based on true stories. After each film, open discussion helps the students analyze the situations in the films and apply it to their lives. 

“My favorite films were ‘Just Mercy’ and ‘Juno,’” Loredo said. “They helped me think about many different situations and things that I never really thought about.”

The films provide insight into some of the most significant moral dilemmas in the world today, and, according to junior Kellan O’Connell, help the students understand the topics in an inspiring way.

“The movies in Theology help show me different viewpoints based on different situations,” O’Connell said. “The class as a whole helps me open up my perspective to learn more about what the world is like.” 

The varying aspects of the class add unique elements to the students’ learning. The deviation from “regular” styles of teaching has created interest and helped the juniors relate to and understand modern dilemmas in the world. 

“The discussions are interesting and the movies are very inspiring,” O’Connell said. “I always look forward to Mr. Dessert’s class.”