Ok, so this rant is out of my norm of posting “how to get things done….” but much post-election discussion is making me shake my head in dismay at the American Education system.
America, once the gold standard in math, science, and technology, has now taken a back seat on the world’s stage as “most desirable place to attend secondary school and higher education”
Where do we go wrong?
And when did we go wrong?
The push to excel in Education was huge in the 60’s “Space Race”. And I’ve heard pundits over the last 20 years say we need another Space Race to re-spark that initiative. But in the absence of another paradigm as large as the Space Race, what can we do?
I was thinking about that question, and some things hit me. And they were right under my nose.
I wondered if Traditional Vs. Charter schools are the way to go. I re-thought my definition of a Charter School as a specialized school for a trade or technology, or even as a STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) school, and not as a “School Choice Voucher ” option, Then the answer hit me: Colleges and Universities are precisely the definition of Charter Schools.
After you graduate college, you go off to a specialized school based on “what you were good at” in high school. And even then, you cannot guarantee that you will finish that program.
Studies by the NY Times and Penn State University report that 25 – 50 % of incoming Freshman declare their major as “undecided”, and 61 to 80 % of college students end up changing their majors before their graduation (this leads to a student attending college for more than 4 years just to receive their Bachelors Degree, but that will be the subject of another blog.)
Granted that the PSU and NYT studies are 3 and 4 years old at the time of this post, their findings ring true and harsh.
In the weird chance that Educational movers-and-shakers read this blog, please entertain this idea: we don’t need to identify aptitudes in students early on in their educational upbringing. Rather, lets expose young minds to a wide array of everything. Then offer specializations (or explorations) in high school (hence, College Prep, Honors, Trade Schools, Tech Schools, and Charter Schools), and allow them to shuffle around as they find their niche.
Hey, isn’t this what happens in college?
And once they graduate, let them continue their studies: Let those who selected trades continue as apprentice with a master tradesman, and let those in academic pursuits further their studies in their fields, and allow them to switch around until they find their speciality. And to you, dear student, don’t get discouraged that even after you found your career you discover you might want to change it (hope you didn’t spend too much money on it). But that’s what being human is all about.
And to you parents, let us be supportive and wish them all good luck.