Students in my AP Economics class are assigned to respond to a blog post every week that applies something we are talking about in class to current issues. Since last week we were learning aggregrate supply and demand (and there is NOTHING sexy to blog about with AS/AD!) I had them respond to the Friedman piece about becoming one of “the untouchables.” The point of the blog was for students to respond to how we as a school sytem in its entirity were doing in helping students become an “untouchable”. The responses were fascinating. Studets were coming in on all sides of the issue. Here are some sample responses:
From a male sophomore:
I believe that one way to help students become untouchables is to eliminate some of the credits that are required in our system. If schools want to help us than schools should not require four years of English or for everyone to take a class on how to draw or make music. Four years of learning how to systematically analyze a book will not necessarily help someone learn how to be innovative and creative in a work place.
An interesting argument (that I partially agree with!) saying there is too much of a set curriculum. Here is a counter-argument from another sophomore male:
I have to disagree with the posts above me. While I understand that 4 years of English, fine arts, P.E classes, etc may seem a little tedious, it forces us to explore other ideas that may help us in the future. And say no graduation requirements were placed. A student determined in some a specific major maybe pursue only classes related to that major and drop all his other classes. Then, say this student enters college and decides that that specific major isn’t really for him (like so many do).
A majority of the ensuing discussion centered around not so much are the schools doing the job, but are students able to discern what they really want to do at such a young age.
A sophomore female provided some perspective on why so may requirements:
Many students do not realize while taking a class how it will help them in the long run. Many times students in my math class will ask the teacher where we will use what we are learning. It is true that unless you are in a job field involving math, you will not use it, but you get the chance to learn something new and challenging and teaches you logic and reasoning skills…
This sophomore female provided some candid feedback and some insight into the mentality of some of her peers:
However, I think that this said change should apply more to the mentality of the system than the requirements of the system. For example, kids who think that being on varsity freshman year is more important than taking an extra honors class. This has absolutely nothing to do with the system itself, but with the people within the system. I think by now everyone knows how tough the job market is, but I think that some kids are going to do nothing about it until they get hit in the face with a reality check when they enter the job market. One thing the school systems could do is teach kids what jobs are really like, and not what they just seem like…
I really like the fact that she pretty much hits the nail on the head that yes, the job market is tough, but many students aren’t going to realize it/prepare for it until it is too late.
My favorite response is from a junior female, and sums up pretty much exactly how I feel about where we are heading:
I think the education system needs to focus more on not just teaching the material but show us how to deal with people face to face and how to create different solutions to differnet problems. In public education, they focus on what they need to teach us so we pass tests and make the schools look good and so the schools will look like they are complying to the no child left behind plan.
It is a brutally honest assessment of our entire education system. In our era of accountability where we judge schools based upon percentage of students who passed a test, kids are starting to see through the fascade and realize they are the ones getting the short end of the stick. This must change, and change soon.