We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, February 17. 2011
Is there any rational reason for High School to be four years?
Is there any rational reason for colleges to be four years?
Why not six years? Why not three? Why not make High School just end when you learn what they set out to teach you? Why doesn't every high school make up a list of educational goals which, when met, you're outta there?
When my Dad went to grammar school (and High School, too), they threw you out of there when they felt you knew enough. He went to college at 16, got drafted out at 18. The Army sent him to Basic, then sent him to grad school, and thus his career began.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Might not be rational but picking a certain number of years keeps govt employees employed.
It's not always about the children, in fact, it very seldom is.
I am very glad that we enrolled our kids in a dual enrollment charter school for high school so that they did not have to be bored by taking the same class twice, once for high school and once for college. It also saved money as they were able to start college with 1.5 years of college credit already so it was like a scholarship, since some of mine were not top scorers!
Rick beat me to the first point. The second point is that public school is a baby sitter. What would we do with 15 or 16 year old HS graduates? Labor laws don't permit them to do much more than menial work and with unemployment where it is, how would they all find jobs? What would the idle youth do?
Are 16 year old children mature enough to go off to college?
An older colleague of mine was in the Battle of the Bulge at 16. Lied about his age.
I think about this daily. My kids are bright, not exceptionally so, but they are doing OK.
I have a daughter in a catholic high school. She's a junior. She scored a 27 on the ACT as a sophomore. I wonder if the junior and senior year are going to be worth it. I am somewhat comfortable with the expense as I expect her to work in some occupation that requires credentials. She'll be perfect in that world. I could have sent her off to a college program that would have given her two years of college and a HS diploma, but thought she should have the HS years like I did.
My son scored a 27 on the ACT as a 7th grader. He's going to catholic high school next year (8th grader now, for those of you counting). He's mature for his age, curious and has demonstrated the ability to teach himself new skills. I don't think he'll be the type to work in the conventionally credentialed world. I wonder why I'm still spending money on him (the labor laws are a problem here). I'm looking at a lot of money for him to be able to ride the pine while on the basketball team. The HS he'll attend is challenging and will be able to push him, but I do think there should be alternatives for a kid like this.
I would love to know what the readers of Maggie's Farm suggest. Are there alternatives that you know of?
My high school was three years - no freshmen. That said, the part about keeping students in until they are 18 (or whatever the age is to drop out) probably has a great deal to do with it.
I wonder if the four-years for college has to do with "if a student takes 30 hours per year, and in order to meet all the requirements it requires a minimum of 120 hours, then . . ." Which leads back to "why 120 hours" et cetera, so there's no good answer there.
The schools and their accrediting bodies only measure inputs.
It is an aggravating aspect of the whole enterprise.
Home schooling gets to that, in my opinion.
Two of my kids have finished high school at 16, and gone on to college. The reason I gave them their diploma was because they were doing all college level work. So why not get college credit?
Community colleges serve this idea, as well. When students go, they can get credit for foreign languages learned and some other skill sets mastered. Also, you test in to your English and Math level. So, one son started in English 1A and Trig. He did not have to sit through English 96 and English 99 and Pre-Algebra first. He started where his tests indicated he needed to start.
So yes, Mike, I recommend an accelerated diploma and enrollment in a community or even a four year college.
You are the best judge of the maturity. Some are mature enough, some aren't.
If maturity is a concern, consider dual enrollment so college credits can be obtained.
Maturity has nothing to do with it. Maturity is a demand from the outside, not something that develops on its own.
Will you please flesh that comment out?
I think I understand your point, but I'm not confident.
By maturity, I meant that the student, although under the age of 18, is able to handle college work and life without messing up.
For instance, they have the maturity to set their alarm, show up for class, remember and do their assigned work, behave in class, study on their own, know when and how to ask for help or clarification, and pay attention.
Also, that they can handle the pressure and workload without cracking up in one way or another.
I've been pondering this of late too. What if we moved more of education, at least at the college level, online, with certified courses like the Teaching Company. What if you could progress through classes one at a time throughout life and your credentials came to be your level of mastery rather than a "degree?" Testing could be done 3 or 4 times a year to certify that you had mastered a particular subject. Science, of course presents particular problems of labs and expensive equipment. The techniques that are showing up in film and in some videos (interactive maps) (interactive graphs) (science videos that show things that cannot be seen with the naked eye) could make the lectures given by outstanding teachers even more valuable.
The kids who struggle through college not knowing what they want to do or be would have more opportunity to explore. And think of all the incompetent professors who would have to find other occupations. We always talk about "lifetime education" but colleges and universities, having grown to accommodate the baby boom are adding country club amenities to attract students and education is becoming so expensive that everyone is asking if it is worth it at all, and schools are dumbing down and inflating grades. I'd say the education system, like journalism is slowly committing suicide.
One grandfather went through eighth grade before working fulltime and eventually became the most wealthy in the family by sheer determintion and salesmanship. Another worked his way through a pre-med college degree teaching in a one-room school house where students were promoted when they passed certain criteria. He, too was quite successful, although WW I disrupted his medical career as the Army needed his expertise in geology (the beginning of the oil and gas boom).
What they had in common (both born in the late 1890's) was their interest in life-long learning and their belief in The Republic that allowed their parents to thrive beyond the socialist polices of Europe. Neither regretted working 16-hour days if it benefited their families, friends and communities.
Once the Federal government got involved in education -- and I have volunteered in the field since 1965 -- the focus on learning changed. My classes in the 50's usually had 40 students, many first generation citizens lacking language skills. I don't remember the teachers having many problems with that load and we also enjoyed art, music, library skills and physical education.
I was then part of the "Sputnick generation" that in our high school reguired four years of math (through Calc), science and English plus three years of foreign language and history with other "credits" in economics, drama, music, etc. I am stunned by the lack of content in today's schools.