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What's the Point of High School?

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Elona asks "what's the point of high school?" over at Teachers at Risk.

What's the point of high school anyway? Over the years I've often wondered that, and I'm a high school teacher. I used to think I knew but the longer I teach the less sure I am. I've been told that high school is supposed to prepare kids. Prepare them for what- work, college, university, life???
It seems that my purpose as a teacher in 2009 is getting students to pass grade nine so they can go to grade ten so they can go to grade 11 etc. My focus is on getting kids to pass. Is that what it should be? Is that what the focus of high school should be? Obviously, I'm not the only one wondering about this.
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My high school History teacher once got onto this subject with us. He cautiously looked around the halls for administrators that might overhear, and then shut the door. He said, "You're not really here to learn history, or math, or English, or whatever. That stuff is important, but it's secondary. When you leave here, you'll be in the real world. You're here to learn how to interact, how to be part of society..." or something like that. I thought those were wise words, and we all felt smug at being let in on the secret.

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