As I say about school these days, all roads lead to college--"force fed", in the parlance of this article:
Rob Friedman “learned very little” in high school — except in “small engines” and “auto shop” classes, he writes in Education and the Art of Minibike Maintenance in the Wall Street Journal.It's what I cautioned against at the Kids First Roundtable a few weeks ago.
Many of his vocational classmates quit high school, he writes. They were being “force-fed” college-prep courses.
His parents — a doctor and a teacher — pushed him to earn a college degree. Friedman enrolled in junior college, but dropped out to run his car-repair business.
He promises to go back to school when business slowed down, but it never did.
Half our students want an academic education leading to a university degree, Friedman writes. But his auto-shop classmates — and many others — do not.
We have to get away from the relatively new ideas that a) everyone must go to college or be a failure, and b) public education should be overwhelmingly academic.
Last week we had some time at the end of one of my classes, so rather than just let the kids socialize I somehow ended up on the topic of credit. Students were paying rapt attention, and asking important questions, as we talked about loans, credit, credit cards, credit scores, and the like--and every one of these students is college-bound. You see, we don't have a "consumer finance" course at school, and one certainly wouldn't fit into the Common Core curriculum California has adopted. Do they even know how to maintain a checkbook register?
The high school I attended had wood shop, metal shop, auto shop, electronics, and construction. We also had drafting, typing, shorthand, art, music, drama, and who knows what else. The school at which I teach has some excellent visual and performing arts classes--but only one shop teacher. There are no other true electives.
And that needs to change.