Thursday, February 18, 2010

high school in two years?

John Grossbohlin sent the following link to an article in the New York Times, High Schools to Offer Plan to Graduate 2 Years Early. John wonders, "Is it a good idea or not?" First, the idea is to inspire kids to escape the boredom and disinterest associated with common high schools, and challenge them to get into community colleges where they will be offered education in things beyond what the ivory towers present. How about nursing, construction arts, mechanics, culinary arts? If you check out your local community college, you will find students are studying a wide range of subjects that are often more on the practical side than what a university education will offer. Is that a bad thing?

Some of the supporters of the plan are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Education Association.

They are basing this plan in part on one in Finland, but have very likely overlooked the essential engagement in hands-on learning. Ideally, students would have full exposure to hands-on creativity and extensive tool use from pre-school through 10th grades. Fat chance at this point in American education, but we can keep talking about it and miracles can happen.

With regard to the early graduation, it is a subject for rigorous debate, with educational experts on both sides weighing in from both sides. An interesting note from one was that so many students drop out at 9th grade, the 10th grade testing will have little effect. Too many student's interests are lost much earlier in their educations. In other words, if we don't fix education from the ground up, making it compelling for all students we'll be patching with band-aids. As you and I know, the strategic implementation of the hands can work wonders, shaping both character and intellect, while also engaging student interest in learning at the deepest level.

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