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Tyrannohotep

Is there even a point to high school?

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It used to be that once a kid became a teenager, they were considered sufficiently grown to leave their parents' home and take on adult responsibilities and autonomy. Nowadays, we force teens to live with their parents for another few years so that they can go to high school. Only after they graduate from high school can they go on to college and enjoy their delayed autonomy.

If you think about it, this makes no sense. Your average teenager already wants to get out of the house and live as an adult long before their high school graduation. Forcing them to endure four or more years of parental domination does them no favors. Furthermore, there are few things they learn in high school that they won't learn from more qualified educators in college. The way I see it, the modern high school is superfluous and should be abolished. Instead, we should send our kids straight to college the moment they hit puberty. That way, they would get to spend a larger proportion of their youth out in the world as free and independent adults.

Who's with me?

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Kids are hitting puberty at age 11 these days, that is far too young to move out. And teenagers brains are still developing, they need a lot of guidance. It would be healthier to remain at home, but with increased boundaries and responsibilities. 

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I um...

Okay, so there are several reasons I am absolutely against this logic.

  • The age group you're talking about (between ages nine and...what, fourteen?) are not mature by a long shot. As @Penguinball said, their brains are still developing, ESPECIALLY at that age. They're dealing with hormones. Educationally, they really haven't learned a whole heck of a lot.
  • They are minors. They cannot legally:
    • Drive
    • Smoke
    • Drink alcohol
    • Join the army (I know that eighteen year olds in the U.S. can do this, and there's a big debate about the fact that eighteen year olds can serve in the army, whether by volunteering or by being drafted, but they cannot smoke, drink alcohol or gamble, but that's tiptoeing into politics and I am going to firmly push against this becoming a political discussion)
    • Make medical decisions for themselves
    • Gamble
    • Probably some other things that I am not thinking of at the moment
  • There are probably a lot of school systems where the kids have to walk to school, because they don't have school buses and they don't want the students taking city buses. How do you think these students would get to college if they cannot yet drive and are not anywhere close to getting their licenses? Their parents likely have to work. Some of these kids may actually be in daycare still.
  • College is for higher education. Professors do not expect to be babysitting their students (granted, they end up doing that even when their students are in the 18-early twenties range because of the way their students behave, but that's more on the individual student and less on the students as a whole). They expect their students to be able to come to class (on time), listen to the lectures, do their work, and get their grades. They do not want to basically still be teaching the basics that should be taught in elementary/middle/high school.
  • Unless you are a student prodigy (which is rare) who also has the maturity to handle the amount of coursework a college student has to deal with...you have no business taking college classes. (Exception: there are some programs in high schools where high schools can take college classes for credit as part of their high school requirements. I am fine with this, because at this point they're probably 16-18 years old and they're still developing their brains but not to the same extent as anyone in the 9-14 year age range. I was in a class where we had a student who was in high school and taking classes for college credit. He was very mature for his age and got his shit done.)
  • Some college students are taking six classes a day while also juggling their homework, jobs, and any sports they play. There's no way a child in the age range you're talking about would be able to handle that kind of workload. Kids that age need to be allowed to just be kids. It's bad enough when they're staying up until 8-10 PM trying to get their homework done and then having to be up early to be able to catch the bus and spend 6-8 hours in school.

So...yeah. I definitely disagree.

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Yeah, I definitely have to disagree, too.  I work within a school system with teenagers, so I can vouch that, as a whole in the society these kids currently live in, they are not equipped to be considered adults, making adult decisions, or dealing with many adult situations.  Granted, life is often contrary and there are students who are forced by circumstance to become more adult than the majority of their peers, but on average that's just not the case.

One of the biggest problems I see with your scenario is that the public schools we have do not prepare these kids at that young age for real adulthood, especially pre-high school.  They are kept cloistered in same-age environments, may or may not have the resources to interact with people of other age groups to get actual socialization skills, and their schooling is often too focused on the academic areas with not enough opportunities, time, or funding to learn the practical skills adulthood requires.  They don't have enough time to even get to know who they are before people ask them to make the big decision of what they wanna do with the rest of their lives.  

Most of the kids I work with aren't even half mentally prepared for what happens the Monday after their last week of school.  

And, as others have mentioned, their brains and hormones have not had enough time to properly develop.  Our species does not mature at the high rate of others in the animal kingdom.  Teenagers need structure, guidance, and parental care.  They also need parental protection.  Putting young, impressionable minds into a college-like setting would be a disaster for them.  They don't have enough world experience to navigate the college scene, not to mention situations where they would be at a distinct disadvantage with people who are older, manipulative, and predatory.  It's hard enough at 18.  It would be unconscionable to put anyone younger in that position.

Now, I fully believe that teenagers and children should be treated with respect, consideration, and common courtesy.  But they need the boundaries parents put on them.  They need to have rules, limited freedoms, and small responsibilities to build up to what comes later.  Otherwise they have no foundation to steady them, no frame of reference once they leave the nest and they flounder. 

Besides, I have seen what happens to students who decide to drop out, run away, and live like adults before they even grasp what being an adult means.  I recognize all their names and faces when they come on the nightly news.  They're either being arrested for illegal activities, have died or killed someone because they don't fully comprehend potential consequences before they act, or they get taken advantage of.  It's really goddamn heartbreaking.

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3 hours ago, Tyrannohotep said:

These are all fair points everyone raised here. I wished I had considered them before making this thread. :classic_blush:

I get the feeling in your mind you were thinking late teens rather than early teens.
Honestly, I think the FOCUS of high school should change, not the need to go there.  But I HATED high school.  Well, I hated school in general.  However, I absolutely would not have been ready to go out on my own at the age you suggested.  Children/teens vary so much in maturity and capability that I think either trying to coddle them for too long, or force them out early, as a blanket option across the board, are equally problematic.  Especially children with mental illnesses, histories of abuses, behavioral problems, etc.

When I was a kid, grade 7 was still in Elementary school, and I still wasn't ready for Jr. High socially emotionally.

When I moved around 16, the city we moved to had grade 6 as the last year in Elementary, a year earlier than I had it.  I thought this was too soon, and felt bad for my siblings who had to face it a year early.

Now my son is in elementary school and they've pushed it down a grade AGAIN.  Grade 5 is now the last year of elementary, and I think that is crazy.  My son has enough problems as it is.  My nephew couldn't handle Jr. High that early and stopped going to school.  His younger siblings then decided they didn't have to go to school, and my sister was left with 3 angry children staying home in addition to the one that is too young for school.  Pushing a kid into Jr. High early was catastrophic for my family.  Pushing them into college that early would be a disaster for many, not necessarily all, children.  But, as in hiking, you have to tailor more towards the people who are behind, than the people who are ahead, for the standard classes.

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10 hours ago, Mynoris said:

I get the feeling in your mind you were thinking late teens rather than early teens.

He said he thinks they should be sent to college as soon as they hit puberty, though. They hit it as young as nine or ten years old and as old as thirteen or fourteen (I haven't googled the exact age range, but I'm guessing based on the fact that I do know that kids sometimes get it really early), so he still would be talking about early teens rather than late teens. What would "late teens" mean in this case, though? "Late teens" is more like 17-19 years old, and there are already high school kids who are 17-18 years old who, like I said, are able to take college classes for credit before they graduate.

I thought of another thing to add to my list: you can't get a credit card at the age you're talking about, and you probably can't get an ATM card until you're at least 15-17 years old, though I suppose it depends on the bank. I want to say I was probably around 18 when I got mine. I was definitely in my early twenties when I got my first credit card, though.

Let's see...when I was in school, our grades were:

Kindergarten-3rd grade was elementary

4th and 5th grade was in our middle school

6th-8th grade was junior high

9th-12th grade was high school

They've made a lot of changes since I was in school, though, and they built a new elementary school and the elementary school that I went to is like...middle school? I don't even know, because even I get confused.

My stepbrothers are in 8th and 10th grade (although the older of my stepbrothers should actually be in 11th grade. He was kept back because his grade level was lower than what it should have been due to his father making him go to a Catholic school when he was younger). I can guarantee you that the youngest of my stepbrothers would NOT be ready for college at his current age. He's only just sloooowly starting to become more mature and take school a little more seriously. The first half of this school year, he was getting in trouble a lot and his grades were suffering because he was spending 98% of his time playing video games. Now he still spends 98% of his time playing video games but he's keeping his grades up and not getting into trouble like he was in the beginning of the year. He made the honor roll, and he's going to the same tech school my other stepbrother is next year. Tech school will be good for him because it's a mix of the typical classroom environment where you sit and listen to a teacher and take notes and hands on work, and he does better with hands on work.

If anything, I think school should be more like that. Less forcing students to sit in a classroom taking notes and listening to a teacher give a lecture and more hands on activities (without relying 100% on group projects for "hands on" stuff, especially at the college level when not everyone has the same schedule). It would be good for those students like my stepbrother who get too fidgety and bored by sitting in a classroom having to take notes all the time. And I mean, there are classes at his school where it is more hands on, but not to the same extent as it is at the tech school he'll be at next year. Basically you rotate through and do a few weeks of classroom stuff and then do workshops for another few weeks.

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While I'd agree that the focus of school and especially the way schools prepare kids for the art of living needs to change in order to better reflect the realities of the world right now..... basically everything else @Jedi Knight Muse and @TricksterShi said.

There was in the past an attitude that teenagers (or even children) were basically mini-adults, and treated as such. The 'invention' of childhood is at least partially responsible for the stopping of practices such as child labor (children working as chimney sweeps, in factories and cotton mills). So, that's a thing. There's also the importance of early childhood education and the first few years of life and the way caregivers bond and interact with their children, but that's a whole other tangent.

As we learn more about ourselves and our development, we've discovered that this is not the case. The frontal lobe reaches full maturity in the late 20s, https://www.nature.com/articles/nn1099_861 The frontal lobe governs things like foresight, impulsivity, planning and motivation, which are important for making the Big Life Decisions characteristic of adulthood. (Like, say, financial saving, house buying, marriage, working in a professional environment while refraining from yelling at your coworkers…)

Meaning that yes, a lot of people will continue to make dumbass decisions well into adulthood!

Additionally, your idea of graduating straight to college is flawed in that the time-management and independence of learning required for college/uni (doing your own assignments and readings, showing up to classes, critical thinking skills etc etc) are not automatic. High school can be thought of as a scaffold for the skills needed for college/uni. (Whether it fulfils that in practice is another story, but hey.) My point is that learners don't go from the highly supportive and structured environment of primary school, straight to the unstructured and relatively independent (and stressful!) environment of college/university.

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12 hours ago, Jedi Knight Muse said:

If anything, I think school should be more like that. Less forcing students to sit in a classroom taking notes and listening to a teacher give a lecture and more hands on activities (without relying 100% on group projects for "hands on" stuff, especially at the college level when not everyone has the same schedule). It would be good for those students like my stepbrother who get too fidgety and bored by sitting in a classroom having to take notes all the time. And I mean, there are classes at his school where it is more hands on, but not to the same extent as it is at the tech school he'll be at next year. Basically you rotate through and do a few weeks of classroom stuff and then do workshops for another few weeks.

Inquiry-based learning is definitely becoming more of a Thing in education, and that's good. More and more jobs are complex, information-based, and involve a ton of problem-solving, and in the modern world we deal with more information than we have ever had to sift through in the past.

Additionally, I know more and more teachers are experimenting with stuff like brain breaks, nature play, the outdoor classroom etc etc. Not always feasible depending on how your school is designed and the downward influence of neo-liberal capitalism on education systems as a whole (particularly the pressure of international league tables)… But definitely a breath of fresh air for education spent too long inside and with worksheets, as opposed to applied knowledge.

Creative thinking will also probably be a bigger thing. I hope they don't forget the arts and humanities, and critical and creative thinking, in their push for STEM. (Though the way STEM has been made fun lately is so exciting!)

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6 hours ago, roadmagician said:

Creative thinking will also probably be a bigger thing. I hope they don't forget the arts and humanities, and critical and creative thinking, in their push for STEM. (Though the way STEM has been made fun lately is so exciting!) 

I think they're already doing that, at least in my town's school system. 😐 I think they got rid of...I think it was home economics that they got rid of or something. It might still exist, but probably not to the same extent it did when I was in school (god that makes me sound old). And I'm pretty sure they've pretty much gotten rid of the drama group at my high school, which makes me sad because being part of that group helped me come out of my shell in a lot of ways. I don't think it's necessarily because of STEM that they've cut those things, though, it's more like...lack of funding/teachers who are willing to be in charge. 😞 The teacher who directed the group when I was there retired several years ago and I don't think anyone really took his place. One of the great things about him was that he treated students like adults without crossing the line while doing so.

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11 hours ago, Jedi Knight Muse said:

think it was home economics that they got rid of or something.

aww that makes me sad. for home ec the sewing stuff we learned wasn't particularly relevant (I wish we'd learned how to hem a pair of pants, for example, instead of make pencil cases?), BUT, I cannot believe they'd cut a class where kids learn how to cook! basic fundamental life skill 101, especially with the focus these days on health! what??? knowing how to use a knife safely is a thing, and home ec skills are something parents aren't teaching any more. 

11 hours ago, Jedi Knight Muse said:

The teacher who directed the group when I was there retired several years ago and I don't think anyone really took his place. One of the great things about him was that he treated students like adults without crossing the line while doing so.

your teacher sounds awesome, like someone who really respected his students. it's such a shame.

 

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I come from a different country and generation than you (given that I am 51), so my replies are taking into account what I know from then and now. I mostly agree with what was said before me, except one thing - the kids have to walk to school, because they don't have school buses and they don't want the students taking city buses. It is just one of the samples of how lately the youngsters are more coddled than they should, and this is why they don't learn gradually independence. 

School buses, here, are only for the very few private schools (most of them are public) and also in certain remote villages who don't have a school, and they need to gather the children to go 10-20 kms to the only school active for all the villages around. Otherwise, no way! So most school children are taking public transport. They are encouraged, not dissuaded to do so. Most parents trust them to do so alone since fifth grade, but some do it earlier. This is a way to learn independence and responsibility. (I read in an US magazine that in US people are reporting children who are going alone, allowed by their parents, as neglected. Outrageous!) I was trusted at 7, after graduating first grade. And nothing bad happened - I knew the route, I never got off sooner or later than the station I should. This, living in a city. (Just the metro wasn't built yet in my school time, it was in my first years of Uni).

This is also a strange rule in many countries that children below 12 shouldn't be trusted to stay home alone, neither to play in a playground, in a group of peers, without parental supervision. I was home alone, with the key on a latch, since first grade, and many other children around were. If not at that age, the latest in the fifth grade, when most children started going to school in the afternoon (the primary school always go to school in the morning - it's not a system of all day school, but 8-12 or 8-13, and the others 13-18 or 13-19, as in the seventh grade to the end of highschool there are mostly 6 classes a day.) It was, again, a lesson in responsibility. The older siblings took care of the younger ones, and the younger ones knew they had to obey the older. It wasn't unusual that the 10 years old had a 7 years old and a 4 years old in charge, so sometimes we all played together, at different ages, how Maria Montessori is advising. (We had no idea then about her).


And during summer holidays, we were out, playing with our peers (not necessarily in the playground - in the square made by 4 blocks it was enough for the children of all 4 blocks to gather and play) and we went back home when our mothers started crying for us at the window, close to nightfall. It was nice, we learnt both socializing and responsibility (many of us had chores to do before going out to play).  Now children aren't given the same freedom... and it shows. They are less prepared for life.

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On 5/19/2019 at 2:11 PM, Elena said:

except one thing - the kids have to walk to school, because they don't have school buses and they don't want the students taking city buses. It is just one of the samples of how lately the youngsters are more coddled than they should, and this is why they don't learn gradually independence. 

I disagree. Not everyone lives within a 5-10 minute walk to school, especially in the country. I didn't when I was growing up. It would have taken me forever to walk to school, and my parents never would have let me even if I'd wanted to. The street I grew up on is on a dead end and the main street that it's off of is terrible to walk on because people drive so fast on it and don't stop at the stop signs. I wasn't allowed to walk on it unless I had a friend with me. I don't think it's coddling them if you're genuinely concerned about their safety and they are too young to be walking to and from school by themselves. It's not like the old days when kids could walk a mile to and from school without their parents having to worry. It's not that they're being coddled, necessarily, it's that things have changed. Kidnappings, for example, occur more often. And like I said, if it takes too long to walk/ride a bike to school for it to make sense and they can't drive yet, then they should either 1. take the bus or 2. be dropped off by their parents.

(I will say this: my stepbrothers live near the schools in my town. It's probably a 10 minute walk to the middle school and maybe 15-20 minutes to the high school. My youngest stepbrother, who is fourteen, currently takes his bike to school or walks. He's been doing so for the last few years, probably since he was ten (but his brother was also walking with him then, too). My other stepbrother gets picked up by a bus because he goes to a tech school, so he doesn't go directly to the high school. He walks home in the afternoons after the bus drops him off at the high school (the tech school is not in my town, it's a twenty minute drive), but 8/10 times he'll text someone to ask them for a ride home, even though he could take the same bus and get dropped off and he just chooses not to because it takes longer to get home. I've had to give him a ride home quite a few times. In his case it just comes down to laziness, but whatever.)

I do absolutely agree that there are parents who coddle their children and make it hard for those children to gain independence (I mean...I love my parents, but I have definitely lived a pretty coddled and sheltered life. It took me a long time before I finally gained the independence I needed, and I'm still not 100% there), but I think it really just depends on the circumstances. And like I said, safety is the biggest issue. There's a difference between coddling your children because you're legitimately coddling them and treating them like they're five when they're actually fifteen VS setting boundaries due to certain circumstances.

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I was in favour of going by public transport buses alone, not of walking great distances, Muse!

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4 hours ago, Elena said:

I was in favour of going by public transport buses alone, not of walking great distances, Muse!

I think we may have misunderstood each other, then.

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