I have just coined a word… I think. If you have heard it before, please let me know where; but the word is McSchools… or McSchooling. It describes this country’s current system of a one-size-fits-all program. Where all kids learn the same thing at the same time in the same way with the same books. How we came to the conclusion, unconsciously, that our schools should be modeled after fast food, is beyond me. This idea leaves no room for innovation or trial and error, or even faster or slower learners. We need to take back the responsibility of education. Dept of Ed was not one that our forefathers created and they did discuss education and schools… clearly they thought it should fall to states and local authority. The further we get away from autonomy, the further we get from leadership, the further we get from individuals who can think and who are creative.
Our schools are having to discontinue programs of innovation and need in order to keep the basics going. However, I don’t think high schools need to take on additional costs in order to offer students programs designed to meet their need of learning a job skill or trade and the local economy’s need to fill positions. If schools became autonomous, and answered to local authority, not to federal standards and mandates, local area businesses could offer apprenticeship programs. Students would go to work for their 8th hour of school and stay on for a few hours after that. They get course credit for that hour and on the job training in whatever job they have.
I know there will be those among us who are shaking their head and saying, “well, how are they going to get to their job? And what about homework? And when will they eat, what if they are too young… etc” And my response is, “really? That’s what you want to focus on?”
Will this work in every single school across the country? ..no… THAT’S THE POINT! Nothing can possibly work for every single person across the country. We need to stop trying to systematize individuals. This program would work for most high schools that can inspire community involvement and which had a teacher who wanted to oversee the project. Details could easily be sorted out locally.
But the Purpose of public education needs to be revisited. It is not to prepare kids for college. It should be to help kids grow into the best people they can be and prepare them for a life of their choosing. College has become a catch-all. Don’t know what you want to do? Go to college. Know what you want to do, but no jobs available? Go to college.
There was a time, long past now, where college prepared our young adults to become a contributing member of society. College increased chances of long-term employment. College increased income beyond the cost of the investment in the degree. This is not the case now. College is the new high school. However, There is so much free learning available to everybody, that the “degree” should become secondary to proving your value or knowledge.
“Higher education” needs reinventing. I am suggesting that we, the market, need to demand that colleges reinvent themselves. This idea of 2 years of general ed is ridiculous. If you know what you want to do for a career AND you need college to do it, then go to college and learn THAT… 60 credits of general ed is outrageous. They just had 4 years of it in high school. College should be 2 years to get your Baccalaureate, and most kids don’t even need to go. And for those kids who are not quite sure what they want to do for a career, for God’s sake, don’t go to college. Go join the Peace Corps or AmericaCorps. The incredible experience and knowledge gained by leaving your family and comfort zone and meeting and working with complete strangers on the other side of the world… nothing compares.
College is NOT necessary for most careers, it has just been expected for so long, we take the notion for granted. Needs reinventing.
These innovative “what if” programs cannot work in a one-size fit’s all system. NOTHING works in a one-size-fits-all system. There is no room for trial and error or innovation when every school in the country is a McSchool. I encourage you all to check out Mike Rowe’s (Dirty Jobs guy) site, also.. some great ideas on alternative education. As he points out time and again, there is not a job shortage in this country. I won’t spoil it for you, but check out his stuff… videos too.
Ok… reading back through this, I can see from my caps and exclamation points that I’m a bit riled by this topic, and I have been for a while. So, feel free to offer your ideas on this as well. I don’t want to hear BS about how it can’t work. If you have something to offer, let’s hear it. The solutions will be ours, not politician’s. We have to think for ourselves. And we have to teach the next generations to do so, as well. McEducation (another coin?) is an issue for all of us. If we want to be global leaders, we start here.