Recently, I was asked why is everything “college prep”? Are we helping students by placing them all on a “college bound” track or are we hurting them? And, hey, what happened to vocational skills?! What is going on with education right now??? It’s true, everywhere you turn, schools are being rebranded as “college prep” and touting a titivated, innovative, rigorous, [insert additional education buzzword here] curriculum that guarantees each child a spot in a stellar institution of higher learning!
Now, I cannot provide a concrete answer to this question; however I can re-direct you to my previous blog about Politics and the Classroom, and urge you to read about education policy—which offers a truer answer and understanding of this recent turn of events. Instead, I will offer a personal story that provides a few thinking points.
I’ve always said that the purpose of education is to prepare all people to be citizens of the world. As children and young adults, we spend the majority of our time in school. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that there is NOTHING wrong with a college prep school and curriculum. All students should be prepared to for the rigor of college level coursework, BUT in failing to provide students with additional options, we are doing them a disservice. Can we prepare you to be a citizen of the world, if you don’t have exposure to various vocations?
When I was in school, I had the opportunity to take wood shop, plastics, auto cad, architectural drafting…. There were even students in my school who were part of a nursing program—many of them have extremely successful careers in the medical field today. I even have colleagues who learned cosmetology skills in high school!
Without these courses, I, and many other adults, wouldn’t have gotten to know my likes and dislikes. I was able to discover that I had a love for architectural drafting, and considered a career in architecture because I had that exposure. In fact, I still use the skills from that class today. I had a creative outlet in high school, and this outlet provided me with an opportunity to think about career options on a grander scale.
So, should all schools prepare students with a “college prep” curriculum? Yes, all students should be able to compete. Should all schools offer solely “college prep” curricula? No, it is still a disservice. As educators, we need to make sure that we are provided our students with exposure to everything because, realistically, we don't live in a world where only a handful of occupations exist. Provide students with the exposure necessary that will enable them to make a more well-informed decision about what role they want to have in the world.
Thanks you for reading this week’s blog!