Friday, December 3, 2010

Why Do I Have To Learn This?!

I have four children. Two of them are already out on their own and serving in the military. My oldest daughter is in high school and my youngest, God bless her, is just starting her public education experience in the first grade. It seems like every year, starting somewhere in their middle school years, I have to answer the question, "Why do I have to learn this?!" This frustrated query usually comes in regards to a class like Algebra, Spanish, or Biology. My response has usually been, " never know when you might need this." or "So you'll be a more well-rounded person." The truth is, I've always felt pretty much like a liar by telling my children this. Think about it. How many people honestly use anything more than basic math in their daily lives? How often have you had to know how to translate grams into moles to get through the day? I know everybody just waits for the day that some traveler from France or Germany will walk into their business so they can break out what little they remember from high school language classes and have a fluent conversation. The point is, very little of what we force our children to learn in school is of any practical use to them, other than to get their high school diploma.
To alleviate the problem of parents having to lie to their children, to ease the frustrations of our nations over-homeworked students, and for Pete's sake, to save education dollars, I have come up with a practical proposal to fasttrack our public education system. Here it is:

- Grades K-6 remain the same, teaching our kids the three Rs: Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic.
-Grades 7-9, we drop any foreign language classes, limit the math and sciences to basic levels, and concentrate on American and World History, U.S. Government, English, and the Arts.
- Grades 10-12 is where the biggest changes take place. Starting in grade 10 our children will choose one of several options based on what they wish to do with their future. As it is, we are already having our kids prepare for ACTs and SATs at this age and by the 11th grade they are deciding on colleges. This will also help prevent kids who have no motivation and just wish to float through high school from using up valuable time and resources in classes that could better serve other children who actually have an interest. Here are just some rough ideas of what different tracks could be offered.

The College Track - For those kids who wish to pursue careers that require a college education, this track would be heavy on math, science, English, and history. Counselors would be required to load a student's schedule with classes that will be needed for the student's choice of career or college major.

The Vocational Track - This track would actually be made up of a number of sub-tracks designed to teach a student what they need to know to enter the particular career of their choice. For instance, students who wished to become construction workers or mechanics would have mostly shop classes along with learning Business Math, and Communications. Students wanting to start their own businesses could be taught Business Math, Accounting, Advertising, Human Resources, and Product Development. Basically, this track would be like your average votech school, just done at an earlier age. Teach the students what they need to know to do the jobs they want, and leave out the classes that don't apply to them.

The Military and Law Enforcement Track - Here students would be taught in a JROTC or junior law enforcement setting. They would learn History, appropriate Math and Science skills, Discipline, Ethics, Communications, Martial Arts, Weapons Training, etc... When a student knows in the 9th grade that they have a passion to become a police officer or a Marine, why torture them with uneccessary classes? Give them the training they need to enter these career fields fully prepared and highly qualified.

The Homemaker Track - This one may be the most controversial in today's politically correct climate, but I have to believe there are still women out there who just want to commit their lives to being married and raising a family. Teach these bold young women things like Budgeting, Cooking, Home Repair, Child Development, First Aid, Child Psychology, and the Arts. It is my belief that a certain percentage of young women feel pressured by society to ignore their God-given tendencies in favor of having to pursue a professional career. Good wives and mothers are the lynchpins of healthy societies. Why not prepare them early, if that's what they so choose?

These are just a few of the ways our educational system could be better tailored to meet the needs of our society and the desires of our young people. You'll notice I don't mention foreign language classes very much. If needed, these classes can be taken in college. For the most part, very few Americans use a foreign language in their profession. One reason for this is that most nations around the world require their students to learn English as it is the international language of business. Companies that do require their employees to know a foreign language don't rely on the employee's rememberance of high school classes. They have them taught through immersion schools or enroll them in programs like Rosetta Stone. High school foreign language classes are, in my opinion, a waste of the student's time and a waste of the taxpayer's money.
There are many classes that we now require of our students that are totally unnecessary. Only a handful of the students that take them will ever actually make use of them. Yet we waste countless dollars forcing them on our children and end up making alot of child psychiatrists very wealthy. We can do better by the youth of our nation if we stop pushing them through the same old cookie cutter we call public education and begin to start teaching them what they really need to know.