If developmental psychologists have it right, that adolescence is the time we lay the groundwork for the grown-up we will someday become, and if they also have it right that adolescence now extends well into the twenty-somethings, what’s up with the new plan to usher kids out of high school in two years?
Well, not all kids. Just those who can pass a series of tests at the end of their sophomore year, allowing them to move straight to community college. According to the New York Times, the point is to make sure students master their basic high school requirements, then hop into community-college level math and English without needing remedial work. Now, I’m sure most of us wouldn’t have minded blowing off the junior prom, but car-pooling to college at age 16?! From the story:
Kentucky’s commissioner of education, Terry Holliday, said high school graduation requirements there had long been based on having students accumulate enough course credits to graduate.
“This would reform that,” Dr. Holliday said. “We’ve been tied to seat time for 100 years. This would allow an approach based on subject mastery — a system based around move-on-when-ready.”
The new system aims to provide students with a clear outline of what they need to study to succeed, said Phil Daro, a consultant based in Berkeley, Calif., who is a member of an advisory committee for the effort.
I vote ugh. Now, I guess it all makes sense when you’re talking about academics, and making efficient use of state education funds. But what about, um, growing up? Did you know what you wanted out of life when you were 16? Did anyone?
Well, there’s Doogie Howser, M.D. But back on point. How do you figure out a life plan when you may not have even passed your driver’s test? Granted, there’s no real need for a 16-year-old college freshman to choose a career, or even a major, but still. Seems to me, this rush to adult-hood is another recipe for a lot of indecision down the line, just one more example of the treadmill we wrote about last fall. In case you missed it first time around, here’s a quick hit:
… Just last week, I came across a piece — call it an advice column — in the New York Times entitled “Helping Teenagers Find their Dreams.” Clearly, it was a parent who was asking for help. Not a kid. Made me want to take drugs.
The response rightly started out with an admonition that parents not force their own dreams on their unsuspecting kids. Cool. But once that was out of the way, the column kicked into overdrive with a double-dose of exercises and whatnot you can do with your teenagers to help them find their bliss. Or whatever.
Ugh. I can’t help wondering if these poor overly-guided teens are the same ones who grew up with (the now discredited) Baby Einstein series or some such. Or teens who, a few years prior, were like a young girl my daughter ran into once in Starbucks. Wearing grade-school plaid and drinking a double-latte, the little girl was working with her tutor, powering through a Kaplan-style prep course for her high school entrance exam. (And, for some reason, no one even questioned the caffeine.)
Or teens currently working with college counsellors, making a mile-long list — and checking it twice — that ranges from “reach” to “safety.”
About just that, we heard from a college counsellor at a private high school shortly after than post ran. She was up to her ears in letters of recommendation for graduating seniors, and wrote to offer her take:
It must be a blessing that your blog address was passed on to me at the time of year when I am writing letters of recommendations for my students.
It seems that so many of them are applying to 15-20 colleges this year. Most of them have been planning for college since they were small children and are so devastated when they are not accepted to their dream school. And they are so crushed because they have been building a “resumé” of activities since they could walk, which is almost as long as I have been teaching.
I see a lot of students who are overscheduled, stressed out beyond belief and afraid to give up some of their activities for fear that it will ruin their chances to get into college and therefore their lives.
Most of them go on to accomplish great things. But I wonder if they are taking the time to enjoy life…
Or to grow up.