Friday, March 04, 2005

Take Two!

A second attempt at the opinion piece I wanted to post a few days ago about the bolstering of high school academics. Hopefully this will be as good as the first one I wrote.

I applaud the governors mentioned in the article for realizing that high school academic reform is desperately needed if we are to give students a quality education. However, my problem with this is that the goal is to “better prepare students for college.”

I do not argue that better preparing those students who want to attend college is a bad idea, but what about the students who do not want to go to college? For many students, high school is the last formal education they will receive. Why then should these students be expected to prepare for college?

Why should students who are not going to college have to take, for example, upper level calculus? Obviously, if they want to learn calc they should be able to take the class, but why force them? Why force students to prepare for college that have no interest in attending college? If this is the end of their education why not teach them valuable life skills, such as finance management or etiquette or even child care*.

It is hard enough to get students who want to attend college to understand why they are learning certain material, but at least the line “you’ll need this to get into college or in a college class,” makes sense to them.

In conclusion, I think that we need to be careful in assuming that all students have the same goals. In my dream world, each student would have a custom educational plan tailored to what he or she wanted to do with his or her life. Until then, I do not think that simply preparing students for college is enough; we must also prepare them for life.


* Note: I’m not stereotyping non-college goers, by implying that they are ruder or more likelu to become pregnant, these are just examples.

3 Comments:

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what do you suggest as a solutiong to this problem?

Schools already don't have enough resources. It seems that you are suggesting a type of two-schools in one school tracking system...

I'm not arguing with your thoughts just the practical aspects of creating a solution.

 
At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Traci said...

I have to say I disagree with Anonymous. In my school district, we've been providing the two options with no real effort for a number of years. While we don't have classes in childcare, we do offer more practical academic options for students who don't plan to attend college.

However...

I think we expect our high school students to be far more mature than most actually are. How can most teenagers be expected to realistically know what they will want to do with their entire adult lives? While I don't think it's necessary for everyone to take calculus (I never did), I do think it is a good idea to gently push students in a direction that keeps their options open. Many high school students who think they have no desire to go to college soon realize that a college education may be necessary if they want to achieve a particular career and/or lifestyle. Sometimes this realization does not occur until AFTER they have graduated from high school and entered the work force. Why not provide everyone with the basic skills necessary to succeed, not only in college, but in the world? Is there really such a thing as too much education at the high school level? Sometimes I think we and the students get caught up in thinking that what we are doing in high school is just preparing them for college--we're actually teaching them to think, to problem-solve, to recognize and utilize the resources available to them. These are all life skills that will serve them well wherever they land. Just my opinion.

 
At 1:24 AM, Anonymous Bud Hunt said...

You're right. Not every kids wants to go to college. Also, many kids don't know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives when they graduate.
Nor should they.
Some days, I don't know what I want to be doing in five years. Why hold a kid to a higher standard than me?
I'm very fortunate that my school district has a stellar vocational program. The students that want training for jobs get top notch training. Heck, I wish I could take some of the classes that we offer.

 

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