Getting Students Ready for Life
A heartfelt thanks to all who shared corrections, clarifications, questions, and deep thinking with me on the first round of our discussion.
From that exchange, I want to focus on two especially interesting threads.
First, Mark raises some important issues about readiness and remediation of our current college-bound students. I've blogged extensively on this topic over at TeachMoore (The Other Side of College Readiness: Readiness of Colleges and More Counseling Support Needed for Students). I urge those of you who are interested to join the conversation over on those pieces, since I don't have space to repeat those important points here.
The second line of thinking that emerged from our dialogue deals with eliminating the false dichotomy between college preparation and career preparation in our curricula, which would also reduce the treacherous practice of tracking.
In my reply to Eric Pollock, I noted: "We treat our so-called college-bound students as if college is all they will ever do. Conversely, we treat the rest as if they will never in their lives pursue post-secondary options. The scary part is those decisions are often made for children, based on social status, or faulty data, often while they are still very young. It is a huge waste of human potential."
Bill Ivey observed: "You also want them [students] to keep their options open as long as possible, whether because they are still making up their minds or simply because they might yet change their mind one day."
Jennifer Martin added: "Teaching hands-on, job-specific skills should not happen at the expense of teaching abstract reasoning, aesthetic appreciation, and critical thinking. Students need an education that gives them flexibility in their careers, but they also need one that does more than prepare them to [be] part of the economy. They need to be participants in moving civilization forward in every dimension of life."
The kind of education Jennifer describes should be our goal for every student in the United States. Restricting students to predetermined sets of courses and educational options presupposes that knowledge is a limited and controlled resource. We live in a world where access to knowledge of all kinds in constantly increasing. What is slower but essential to change is our concept of the purpose of school.
Renee Moore, a National Board-certified teacher, has taught English and journalism for 20 years in the Mississippi Delta region at both the high school and community college levels.