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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

What's the purpose of high school?

Teaching "self-sufficiency and competence" should be the goal of high school -- not merely college prep -- writes Selim Tlili, a biology teacher, on the Heterodox site. He writes at Selim's Thought Space.


"This fetishizing of college has degraded the potential educational value of high school and, indirectly, college as well," he writes. Many students "see high school as something that they need to 'get through' to get to the only education that 'counts'.”


All students, including the academically unprepared, are told to go to college, writes Tlili. Most "are primarily interested in the college experience and signal of the degree, rather than actual learning." That encourages colleges to reduce academic rigor.


Students who've slid through school without working very hard or learning very much do not magically turn into learners in college. They have trouble training for skilled jobs too.


Abram Lewis, a high school junior, has completed an associate degree and will finish a bachelor's from Purdue Northwest by his 2024 graduation from 21st Century Charter School in Gary, Indiana.

Tlili suggests high schools offer more hands-on, project-based and practical classes, including an optional senior project that would serve as "a modern-day apprenticeship." For example, seniors could train as an EMT or a bookkeeper, he writes. "This would mean that college freshmen would enter college with some basic applicable skill (and maybe some understanding of debt), and students who are not currently college-bound would graduate with an entry-level skill that could set them up for work right away."


High schools can get first-generation students to college degrees -- before they graduate, says Kevin Teasley, whose Greater Educational Opportunities (GEO) Foundation runs charter schools in Indiana and Louisiana that enroll low-income, minority students.


Once they pass college-entrance exams, GEO students take classes at community colleges and universities, Teasley tells Rick Hess. High school teachers and counselors track their progress. Students "learn time management, self-discipline, as well as how to work with others who are different from them. They learn how to navigate the college campus, the registrar’s office, college professors, and more."


Some have graduated from high school with associate degrees or career certificates, and a few with bachelor's degrees.

18 comentarios


Invitado
07 abr 2023

To properly use CNC equipment and get the desired results requires solid math skills and a basic knowledge of trig...

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Invitado
07 abr 2023
Contestando a

Yep. So the kids in those classes actually bother to do decently in trig.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
07 abr 2023

America's hundred-year-old comprehensive high school model is many decades out of date. More up to date is to finish basic education by ninth grade, as in northern Europe, followed by the majority of youth choosing vocational education & training from tenth grade onward -- after three years of which Swiss youth are incomparably better prepared to begin a career than their peers in America -- while a minority (perhaps a third, although this will vary from region to region) qualifies for admission to high colleges, from which students graduate with advanced diplomas qualifying them to begin three-year bachelor's degree programmes that, unlike the milled degrees advertised in the article, are likely to be recognized globally, rather than just in th…

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
10 abr 2023
Contestando a

This is a brief reply to all three guest comments above: I am writing about what is really happening now, in 2023, in Switzerland, and states with similar systems: youth are not "tracked", they choose vocational education & training because it is more attractive for the majority of them, including white-collar majorities who wisely trust a system that actually helps their children after ninth grade, via bypassing comprehensive high schools altogether, after northern European state experiments in which the American model was tried out, and proved to be the least satisfactory model available, an experiment that is tried ad nauseum in the United States.

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mrmillermathteacher
mrmillermathteacher
07 abr 2023

I was the valedictorian of my high school. I graduated in the top 3% of my undergrad class. I have a master's degree in math. I teach high school math.


High school today is too academically-oriented. The school from which I graduated offered music, marching band, wood shop, metal shop, automotive shop, electronics shop, construction shop, drafting, typing, shorthand, art, and other classes I didn't take. My current high school offers the following as electives: band, wood shop, robotics, art, ceramics, and drama.


Some "self-sufficiency and competence" classes are sorely needed.


When I taught middle school 20+ years ago, one of the most popular classes was home economics. The boys were especially proud of the cooking knowledge and skills the…


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Invitado
08 abr 2023
Contestando a

The only thing I care about on Wall Street is that my buy and sell orders get handled in a correct manner and with accuracy.


Contrary to popular belief, Ivy league education provides access, but in life, a degree from most state university systems and a lot of hard work usually means success

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Invitado
06 abr 2023

The idiot Obama, with his know-nothing (except basketball) education secretary Arne Duncan, imposed the "every student for college" message upon the nation, using the mediocre Common Core written by the ignoramuses David Coleman and Jason Zimba.


And it's taking our nation over a decade to remove ourselves from their idiocies imposed on the nation.

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Invitado
06 abr 2023

"High schools can get first - generation students to college degrees before they graduate"


Relabeling 11th and 12th grades as an Associates Degree is not fooling anyone. Its pay to play in many areas, and that's hurting the working class who don't have subsidies in many states. Instead they must be cannon fodder or wait for the loans and get on the six year plan for University completion.


This whole plan is hurting first gen students who need AP/IB as the bridge to serious majors in Universities.

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Joanne Jacobs
Joanne Jacobs
06 abr 2023
Contestando a

GEO students who pass college-admissions tests take regular college classes at nearby community colleges and nearby universities. I agree that dual enrollment classes taught by high school teachers are not always taught at the college level.

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