Sanderling wrote:So then it begs the question, polymath: if all most public schools are able to provide is a compulsory, uniform, dull methodology that doesn't teach thinking for oneself, why bother teaching it at all? Aren't we doing the kids a disservice here by presenting the material in this manner? Teaching them, effectively, to hate it? At least if the subject isn't touched on at all, then they're at worst indifferent. Since having stepped out into the "real world" myself, I've definitely felt that high school goes about it all wrong. Instead of teaching lots of subjects that most of the kids will never use again with the idea that it prepares them for post-secondary studies, I think that high school should emphasize life skills. Introduce kids to a broad variety of subjects but let the universities/colleges/trades handle their detailed instruction. There are still many high schoolers who never go on to higher education, and even those who do usually graduate without useful life skills such as money management or cooking or communication or - as you point out - independent, conscious, critical, conscientious thinking.
Tragic chuckles, yes. Education politics impose a variety of burdens on teachers and students with conflicting mixed messages coming from all corners and overwhelming chaotic circumstances to negotiate.
An education is an inalienable right in free societies, but it's a negative right. A person has to want it bad and do most of it for him or herself. All a compulsory education provides is the bare minimum needed to get by, and in some respects, tools tantalizingly offered for what's needed to learn best for one's self.
What do school children really need to be competitive in local and global vocations? Reading, writing, and math skills at least. Lately, computer skills too. Auto mechanics around here now have to be able to enter data into a uniform database for state motor vehichle recordkeeping purposes or lose their certifications and thus their livelihoods.
What do teenage students really need to be competitive? Life skills, yes, as well as advanced reading, writing, math, and computer skills. The issue I see is by the age when they should be developing self-responsibility skills, their family and institutional guardians are by and large either indifferent or tyrranical or both in conflict with the other, which lets them run wild when no one is around to supervise and imposes severe supervision when they should be learning to responsibly supervise themselves so they can be fully productive, responsible citizens and enjoy the luxuries and privileges adult life affords.
Wanta know what high school's main mission is according to community colleges and universities, preparing students for advanced education. Preparatory schools serve that role for private school students who are shy of the mark. Much of the freshman and sophomore and vocational associate's degree curriculums involves preparation for unversity coursework. Sadly, the mission doesn't meet expectations. One of the more onerous required basic study skills courses for college and university freshmen is composition. I failed my first attempt at it, and dropped out of college for that and other reasons. My second attempt was all aces. I'm about to begin tutoring freshmen on composition, and will soon be teaching the courses.
Rightly so, the high school mission doesn't meet university expectations, though. Most high school graduates and new college students don't know what they want to grow up to be in the real world. They have ideas imposed upon them by their guardians, but no clear idea of what would best serve their needs and ambitions and meaningfully fulfill their adult lives. A couple years of peer social interaction helps them to develop their adult self-identity so they can decide for themselves what they are ready, willing, and able to become. Again, sadly, many fall by the wayside into excessive partying, neglecting their studies and developing poor self-responsibility skills.
High school guidance counselors are supposed to help students develop education and career plans, but politics and familial guardians impose severe limitations on what they can do. My high school counselor was the worst sort. She did everything she could to sabotage my high school education. She actually said to me I was from a privileged family, I didn't have to do much to succeed. She changed my course selections without anyone's approval, taking me out of advanced classes, refusing to enroll me for advanced classes, scheduling me for advanced classes during first periods, knowing full well I worked nights. I went behind her back and got the classes I wanted when I wanted them anyway. How wrong she was in many respects. I come from a poverty class background and graduated nonetheless into the poverty class, though with vocational, industrial, and college prep endorsements and honors distinction on my diploma. I'm still in the poverty class. But the foreseeable future is looking brighter.
Then there's real-world reasons. The vocational world wants tractable entry level candidates who can be molded into good workers who don't challenge the entrenched status quo. Those old timers jealously guard their status and are relucant to give it up to a bunch of hard charging, intelligent, competent young whippersnappers, which would upset the applecart and inflict chaos on the presupposed notions of the way it oughta be because that's the way it's always been, and in the main sense, because young and early adults don't yet have the wisdom and experience of age to effectively take charge of corporate or worldly affairs.
So, of course, force a minumum education standard down their throats, make them hate learning so they only do the absolute minimum they can get away with or drop out and go into menial labors or lives of crime, which, though they harm society, provides a going and growing wealth of careers and fortunes for corporate exploiters and vendors and workers for the criminal justice system, which is the deadfall trap of oppression in this present day real-world dystopia.
True achievers navigate the hazards eventually, by keeping their heads down in the books, alert to what's going on around them, and in waiting for their turn when it comes. The rest get caught up by the distractions and deadfall traps set by precedence and ancient notions of pragmatics to serve the least good by detouring the unwary into meaningless, empty, fruitless, unfulfilled lives.
It's a perfect world in my view, perfectly messed up so that only the strong survive. Huh, only the measure of what's survival, what's strong, what they mean, differs from humans' prehistoric survival.
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