Friday, May 11, 2007

One idea for what to do with "Pains in the Class"

I just came home from our local grocery store, and I was reminded of a good idea from a book I didn't like. All I did was pick up a Mother's Day card for my wife to go along with the present I had already bought, so I wasn't there very long. But while I was there I happened to bump into three different students of mine, each of whom, in there own way, are pains in the class.

All three of these kids appeared to be working hard, all three of them were hustling, all three of them were polite and friendly, and all three of them had smiles on their faces. I rarely see any of these things from any of these kids in school. Oops, I take that back. I do often see smiles on their faces--after they have done something that they're not supposed to do.

A few years ago, I read THE WORM IN THE APPLE by Peter Brimelow. Most of the book bashed public schools and teachers, so I didn't like much about it, but I did whole-heartedly agree with one thing that Brimelow said. Brimelow suggested that we could improve public schools by making the General Educational Development (GED) certification program meaningful, and by removing the stigma from it. A GED is supposed to be equivalent to a high school diploma, but, as Brimelow pointed out, many employers don't view it as such. As a result, there are a number of kids who want to start making money in the working world, and have no desire to be in high school, but they're stuck there, because they feel like staying is the only way to get that needed diploma.

A lot of kids who are irresponsible in school are irresponsible in every area of their lives. Over the years, however, I have learned that that is not always the case. The three kids I saw today at our grocery store are good examples of that. These are not bad kids, but they aren’t buying the arguments about how wonderful and valuable education is. I think they would be better off in the long run if they did, but they don't. That being the case, I have no desire to have them in my class so I can make them miserable, and I certainly don't need them there so they can make my other students and me miserable. Wouldn't it be great to have a meaningful GED program that would free them so they could get their high school graduation equivalency and then be able to move on with their lives?


Blogger Exo said...

That was the common practice in the Soviet school - compulsory schooling - 8 years. Last two - for those who wants to get into a University or an Institute (5 years, not 4)
After grade 8 students could get enrolled into Professional-Technical Schools (2 or 4 years) and learn a trade along with the rest of required academics. After that, if they felt capable of it, the could continue to University. If not - earn their living. Night schools were also available and were going by the same curriculum as regular 9th and 10th grade...

5/11/2007 4:43 PM  
Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Very good point. I have a number of seniors in my pre-college class who shouldn't be there. But because they are "supposed" to go to college, they signed up.
A colleague of mine told me about a program at a school he worked at. In this program, students built a house. Those students were kids who didn't fit into the mold of high school--but they learned very valuable skills. Without people to do that quality of work, I wouldn't have a house.

5/12/2007 7:10 PM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

Well, the GED can boast both Sanjaya Malakar and Paris Hilton -- surely that raises its prestige? :)

Seriously, though, isn't the problem with the GED that it's just a series of tests? Seems like Mr. McNamar's house-builders have evinced far more useful real-world skills. Exo's system also seems geared towards learning something of applicable worth. I think raising the prestige of the GED would require some performance in addition to passing tests.

Maybe we could proliferate degrees just as computer certifications are proliferated, each indicating some different set of skills or knowledge.

5/14/2007 10:49 AM  

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