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Old 10-23-2007, 03:04 AM
 
Location: Mississippi
6,712 posts, read 13,461,151 times
Reputation: 4317

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I don't post on this particular board very often, but I would like to take the time out to explain, as a high school dropout, the observations that I have made in regards to the fallacies of the education system in America. I think as one of the "failures" of America's education system I can see where things went wrong. Let me explain:

Early in my childhood, in elementary and junior high; I did pretty well making mostly A's and B's with little to no effort. Now, perhaps from state to state it is different, but the county I was attending school had one of the best educational programs in the state (Tennessee). I specifically remember in 8th grade (our junior high ended in 8th grade, from what I understand this is not always the case) being seated in the Cafeteria with all of my classmates and being handed a sheet in which I was supposed to pick the "path" I was going to take in high school.

On the sheet were two "paths". One was the University path and the other was the "Technical" path. Unfortunately, the way in which the two paths were presented are the biggest fallacy that I can possibly think of in regards to our educational system as it stands today.

What was presented was that the two paths were strictly paths to get one into college. The University path "represented" ALL four year colleges, where in my opinion, they should have represented Ivy league schools. The Technical path represented two-year colleges and many of the kids were given the impression that this was for the dummies. So, naturally, a large portion of the kids, fearing the dreaded "You're stupid" monologue chose (incorrectly might I add) the path that they were not meant for. I was one of those kids.

To get to the bottom of it, you have to understand what a University path means. It means accelerated learning (which I didn't seem to have a problem with), but it also meant extra homework, more reading assignments, and harder tests based on how much you studied (which I did have a problem with). And while some kids are excellent learners, and highly intelligent, not all children have the study habits and determination to be put in the "University" path. However, it is this impression that one gets of college that seems to be the fundamental flaw in our education system.

So what of the kids who did choose the technical path? Well, most of them went through high school taking the simpler classes, not necessarily scoring the highest GPA's but they still graduated. And guess what? Most of them went on to 4-year colleges when, in fact, they shouldn't have done this at all! How many people do you know have 4-year "worthless" degrees? Why are these programs out there? Does it do any good to have a piece of paper to say that you hold a 4-year degree in basket-weaving or some other subject? No, it just shows you have a 4-year degree. Why are our children being forced to attend college when they could be in a real technical program learning trade skills?

Ah, there I said it, trade skills! The name sounds horrible doesn't it? It sounds almost as bad as "slavery". TRADE SKILLS! Not my child! My child is worthy of college! Well, I'm sorry, but the logic of this confuses me to this day. Not all children are cut out for college. And the same kids that are taking the University paths when they need to be in the Technical paths are going to be in the same boat as the kids who are taking the Technical paths. They are going to get to college without the work ethic to survive and they are going to end up picking degrees that will just "get them through" 4 years of college.

Any wonder why it is so hard for a kid fresh out of four years in school to get a job? Because the market has been flooded with 23 year olds who hold a Bs in BS! If those four years were spent learning a trade, I feel that not only would our economy be better, but our kids may be better off.

Let me tell you how I survived in a world against high school dropouts. I dropped out at the age of 17 and got my GED. I took a few CC classes but thought it was the same mindless banter I had in high school. A certain course of events led me to join the Air Force. I scored high on the ASVAB (preliminary testing for the military) and I asked to be an aircraft avionics technician. For those of you not familiar with this, it is the repair and troubleshooting of all the instruments and guidance systems the pilot uses in flight to include the wiring. I excelled in this beyond my wildest dreams. This is what I had a genuine interest in. I found myself doing homework, studying, and trying to be the best at it. After 5 years of doing this I went out and got my A&P license which enabled me to work on civilian aircraft as well. I got out of the military at the age of 24 and took a job with one of the highest paying aviation companies in the country.

Right now I make more money than about 90% of all college graduates my age. Did I take a few college courses in the military? Yeah, but only the ones I was interested in. I do plan on finishing up my degree, but now I have a clear guidance in my life in what interests me. I know what I want to do and I'm halfway through my 4-year degree. The only way I can go from here is up because I have a skillset. Now I have a degree I'm interested in, and I will pursue it.

So what should all of this mean? You know your children the best. You probably also know what is required out of a four year degree. A real four year degree, that is. Is your child the kind that has the aptitude to head to college and take on all the demands a real university asks of him/her? If so, then that's wonderful! If not, then don't push them to go to college. You're more than likely only going to waste your money. I invite you to see if they are interested in trades. There are plenty of aircraft maintenance colleges, auto repair colleges, etc... etc... and many of these people are honest, hard working people who make a very decent living.

The pressures on our kids to go to college are so overpowering in this society that I feel it hurts their real education. The education of the real world. Why aren't we teaching more "trades" in high school? Why is everything based around universities who are asking for too much money in the first place? Don't get me wrong, I think college is a good thing, if applied correctly. But it is not for everyone, and it is especially not for everyone straight out of high school. I encourage you to think about this, and to also reflect back on your educational upbringing. Would experience in a trade better suited you to begin with? Did your four year degree really do everything it was cracked up to do? Think about it.
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:30 AM
 
Location: chesapeake virginia
95 posts, read 304,548 times
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I couldnt agree more with everything you said. great post..
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Old 10-23-2007, 05:01 AM
 
4,562 posts, read 4,103,050 times
Reputation: 2287
Yeah, you've got a bit of a point. I really think the problem with schools is that they are all about worker training. How to become a good worker and make lots of money. Right? Isn't that what we all want? The six figure income that makes life so grand. School should really be about allowing people to find what they are good at so they can get a bit of happiness out of life doing something they enjoy, even if it is in the off hours. School should be that opportunity where kids can learn something (woodworking metalworking, shop, science math, writing, music) they want to learn and they are able to learn it without being hindered by a lack of money or pressure from family.

Now I went to college to be a music teacher, I wanted to be able to help kids find something that they could take pride in not just get trained to work some job forever (yeah I know this sound hippyish and idealistic). I worked for two years until standardized testing and NCLB beat all of that out of me and I left teaching. In that time though I taught a little boy who had a brittle bone disorder how to play trumpet. At the age of 12 he was playing on the level of many high school freshmen and he developed a great sense of pride in himself and the admiration of others despite the problems in his life.

Now I know music isn't the most economically useful thing to be teaching in schools, but if it wasn't offered in schools, I doubt his parents could have afforded the private lessons for him to learn given his medical expenses and how far away they lived from a city with a private teacher.

Every child is different and every child is going to have their own gifts. Some will be great with tools, others good with math, others will be excellent writers (you get my point). School should be a diverse offering so students can find something (if not many things) that they can take pride in and enjoy as they become adults.

I know we need to have a well trained workforce but there's always gonna have to be people that perform service jobs (food prep, cleaning, etc.) they are not gonna need higher level math or writing skills, but it would be nice if they could do something in their spare time that they enjoy.

Any enthusiasm for teaching was beaten out of me in those two years and the only fond memory I have is of that little trumpet player. I suppose I could be critisized for my choice of degree, but I still practice every night, and I don't think I'll ever quite have the enthusiasm for a job (oh yeah I'm switching to the medical field, maybe I can help people in that) that I initially had for teaching. I guess you could say I wasted my time with that degree, but on those really lousy days that little bit of practice time at the end is the only thing worthwhile. I know I didn't choose the most practical degree, but it did and still does make me happy. Not a Bs in BS I guess.

Sorry I went on a tangent. In short, I think school is turing into "worker training" as the budgets shrink and everyone wants more and more computers. Schools (especially middle and high school) should be extremely diverse, letting our kids get the most experiences possible. That will never happen though when they have tiny budgets and we spend all our money tax cuts for the rich, wars in other countries, and "securing" our borders.
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Old 10-23-2007, 05:29 AM
 
Location: Mississippi
6,712 posts, read 13,461,151 times
Reputation: 4317
Just to clarify a few things. After going back and re-reading my OP I don't think I was clear enough in stating that while I think college is good, perhaps excellent for some kids, that not every kid is cut out for it. And I think it is even more likely that after roughly 12-13 years of school most 18 year old high school graduates are burnt out on school. I know in my case, I didn't want anything to do with a school when I dropped out. Now, I'm back into it, I want to get back into it, but now it's on my terms, and now I have a genuine interest in what I'm studying for. I don't see how so many people can make a decision on what they want to do for the rest of their lives at 20 or 21 years old (usually the age a 4 year college graduate has to make a decision their major) ESPECIALLY with absolutely very little exposure to the actual job they're studying for!

Some people know they want to be doctors, lawyers, etc... but I think if you look at a large portion of Americans in college today you will find the same answer when asking them what their major is: "I'm not sure, but I have to make a decision soon."
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Old 10-23-2007, 05:46 AM
 
4,562 posts, read 4,103,050 times
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I won't argue with that, a lot of future Peter Gibbons of Initech (I hope you catch the Office Space joke). But then again thats what our economy wants, lots of insurance salesmen, realtors and account processing people. Again they don't get to see anything in the public school other than the basics, very one size fits all.
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Old 10-23-2007, 05:59 AM
 
20,793 posts, read 61,314,203 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by odinloki1 View Post
I won't argue with that, a lot of future Peter Gibbons of Initech (I hope you catch the Office Space joke). But then again thats what our economy wants, lots of insurance salesmen, realtors and account processing people. Again they don't get to see anything in the public school other than the basics, very one size fits all.

I am REALLY glad I can disagree with this post. Our schools offer many, many different opportunities for kids from AP/College courses to work/study programs. No, a 4 year college isn't for everyone however EVERYONE should continue on to some sort of post-secondary education, college, tech school, military, etc. There is a lot to be learned about how to THINK that isn't taught in books in college or whatever.

Our district offers many technical education type courses, drafting, auto shop, we even have a school at the zoo that teaches all kinds of interesting subjects from animal care for wantabee vets to zoo management, to environmental studies to many other areas. We have a cooperative program with the local community college for kids that want to go that route and take classes. They also have an independent study route for kids that want to make their own way--they still have to take the core classes but their electives are of their design.
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Old 10-23-2007, 06:38 AM
 
4,562 posts, read 4,103,050 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
I am REALLY glad I can disagree with this post. Our schools offer many, many different opportunities for kids from AP/College courses to work/study programs. No, a 4 year college isn't for everyone however EVERYONE should continue on to some sort of post-secondary education, college, tech school, military, etc. There is a lot to be learned about how to THINK that isn't taught in books in college or whatever.

Our district offers many technical education type courses, drafting, auto shop, we even have a school at the zoo that teaches all kinds of interesting subjects from animal care for wantabee vets to zoo management, to environmental studies to many other areas. We have a cooperative program with the local community college for kids that want to go that route and take classes. They also have an independent study route for kids that want to make their own way--they still have to take the core classes but their electives are of their design.
I'm glad you have that. I have no idea where you teach. Here I don't see that at all. The kids get very few options aside from just the core subjects. I have seen some industrial arts schools, but the kids have to attend that school. Also, many school districts claim to have a tech center, but its a half hour bus ride away, that can get very discouraging.
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Old 10-23-2007, 05:13 PM
 
20,793 posts, read 61,314,203 times
Reputation: 10695
Quote:
Originally Posted by odinloki1 View Post
I'm glad you have that. I have no idea where you teach. Here I don't see that at all. The kids get very few options aside from just the core subjects. I have seen some industrial arts schools, but the kids have to attend that school. Also, many school districts claim to have a tech center, but its a half hour bus ride away, that can get very discouraging.
I am just a parent in a great school district in Minnesota but honestly, most schools here still have some technical education depending on the size of the school. SOme of the smaller schools might only have auto shop but at least it is something.
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Old 10-23-2007, 05:30 PM
 
Location: Mississippi
6,712 posts, read 13,461,151 times
Reputation: 4317
I agree, secondary education is important, but I think we are filling our children with an illusion of grandeur that every single one of them is college material. I understand it's a source of great pride for a parent to say their kid is in college, but in reality, it doesn't offer the real world experience everyone thinks it does.
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Old 10-23-2007, 06:11 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids, MN
571 posts, read 2,530,271 times
Reputation: 314
At my school (I am a HS counselor) we try to emphasize whan Golfgal is talking about....not everyone will (or SHOULD) go get a 4-year liberal arts degree, but everyone should think about getting SOME kind of post-secondary education/training (i.e., 2 year college, 4 year college, military, apprenticeships, beauty school...whatever!)

I think there is less "stigma" associated with 2-year or "trade" schools than there was in the past though. I have lots of kids going into 2-year (or shorter) programs in fields ranging from healthcare to computers to law enforcement to construction trades. And yes, many of these kids will probably make more money than I do with my MA!
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