As discussed in Education K-12 Requirements, the three goals of schooling for students are:
- Develop their capabilities as completely as possible
- Learn their rights and responsibilities of adulthood and citizenship
- Develop skills sufficient for their next stage, whether it’s entry into the work force immediately or further education in preparation for their life’s work
Goals with areas that need improvement. The change needed is often a shift from academic mastery to pragmatic accomplishment. The three goals are mandatory for the entire student body. We must make a better effort with dropouts before they drop out.
- Individual Development
- Financial skills on adult life. Not optional, but mandatory
- Conflict resolution. Including role playing, though not Julius Caesar and Brutus in a Roman forum, but Beth and Sami at the food court. Perhaps Justin and Deandre on the playground
- Appreciation changes over time in medicine, material goods creation, and environment.
- Individual and Society
- Citizenry course. Social contract. The roles, rights, and responsibilities of individuals, social groups, and governments.
- Reasoning. Learning the differences between facts, opinions, and theories on current issues.
- Individual and Work Force
- Study of work content. Reading and following instructions
- Income range for intended occupation. Consumption patterns for that income
Public schooling has numerous diverse forces pushing on it. Without drastically altering the high school curriculum which successfully serves certain needs, it should be possible to customize the curriculum to focus more attention on improving personal skills and knowledge of a person’s role, right, and responsibility in the society as well as of those of the government.
Current School Evaluation
With three major categories of students and three school goals, there are nine results which Figure 1 integrates into a table. See high school success for more on schooling and jobs.
Dropouts fair poorly. They leave high school with their potential unfulfilled. Society experiences a high crime rate by dropouts. It is not served well by them. Also with their higher unemployment rate, dropouts find it hard to find satisfactory jobs in the work force.
Overall, high school graduates get a fair chance to test their potential—intellectual, creative, athletic, and social. They basically understand the social contract. Most learn skills sufficient to gain employment leading to a satisfactory lifestyle, but a considerable portion of the graduating class are unable to match their expectations with their experience in the work place and home. They did not get a chance to develop their individual skills as much as they would like. Conflict resolution, essential in a competitive society, is not well covered. Also, many employers complain of the sketchy grasp a large percentage of high school graduates bring to the workplace.
Too many high school students who continue onto college degrees develop a burdensome student debt which they find very difficult to repay. These students need a groundwork to guide them in balancing lifestyle expenses to prospective salaries.
Also many highly successful individuals believe their success is wholly due to their effort, overlooking the support society gives them as well as the contributions of other employees who magnify the leader’s efforts.
Every students at a minimum must be given an introductory survey of science, replacing the requirement for a specific subject. Specifically lower performing students before they drop out in the eleventh or twelfth grade. The course would start with the technological progress that has been made and the scientific method. In the overviews of the major branches of science, it revealing the fact-based methodology of science.
High School Curriculum Changes
For those students who will not finish high school with their peers, replacement of academic course with courses that develop practical skills they can use immediately has a better chance of sticking.
For those high school students whose goal is a diploma to start in the work force, substituting work preparation courses for academic preparation would benefit the student, society, and the work force.
With many high school seniors only needing one course (English) in their final year to graduate, additional courses can be easily fit in.
By age 16. Potential dropouts. Allowed to substitute practical knowledge course, facts and issues of the year, snapshot of average person over the centuries, not celebrity gossip, in place of a history. The difference between fact and opinion as well as that between fact and theory.
A course on critical reasoning must be required based on current issues. Teaching methods of straight-forward reasoning can be used on issues students raise. Straight-forward reason implies an immediate rule of an event causes a result. It does not concern itself with exceptions to the rule, except to mention they exist.
A second science course should be offered to those not intending a college path. This course would be in the technology of their intended employment. Surely professional educators can make better substitutions, but perhaps instead of an academic biology requirement for prospective restaurant workers a laboratory course with food preparation, safety, and cleanliness.
All high school students should be required to take a financial literacy course by the time they are sixteen. For most students this requirement will be no onus. For those that might drop out or those who do not see their future through a bachelor’s degree, this could substitute for pre-calculus without harm to their future prospects. Instruction in budgeting would tie incomes and expenses to prospective jobs and lifestyles.
Similarly, an opportunity to take an English course focused on reading instructions and documenting procedures used in retail and other occupations requiring a high school diploma. This substitution for an English literature unit should be allowed early, so that potential dropouts could take it.
Instead of a second course on American history, exposure to the American social contract with the rights and responsibilities of citizens, society, and government laid out and discussed.
As mentioned earlier, an introductory exposure to the progress of science and the improvements it has brought us would also benefit the student in appreciating the relationship between occupations.
Learning how to follow instructions benefits not on the individual, it increases the work force’s productivity. When an individual learns to improve a procedure and write one of their own, they are displaying the ability that will lift them later in the work force hierarchy.
Ten Years After
Figure 2 shows that final education status changed markedly by 8 years after expected high graduation.
Most remarkably 85% of high school dropouts either returned to high school to earn their degree or passed the GED (general education development) test. Whatever their reason for dropping out, they learned that mastering high school skills had value in their life.
Of the 64% with high school degrees or GED, 19% earned job certification or community college degrees. Many others took miscellaneous college courses in exploring how to reach their goals.
Although further information on those who went on to college degrees is available (see link below), that was not germane to this post.
The main points are that all students should be better exposed to course material that fits into their life path. Also many graduation requirements are too academic and not well-suited to those entering occupations immediately after high school. Replace a few academic requirements with pragmatic courses that develop personal relation skills, an appreciation of one’s rights and responsibilities, and useful direction following instruction.