Should high school students declare a major?
- Posted: Mar 24, 2006 at 11:23AM
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There are many criticisms of this: that it would deprive students of a broad liberal arts education, and it would put more emphasis on the role of school career counselors in giving students guidance.
Here’s a better critique: how many 13-year-olds do you know that have a clear idea of what they want to do when they grow up? And of those who do, how many are basing it on good information? And of those, how many are going to change their minds?
Last week my twin daughters, who coincidentally are freshmen in high school, had to take one of those “career preference” tests – I’m sure you remember them from your own high school days. I certainly do. They were a joke back then, and they’re still a joke today; to wit, several of my classmates were recommended the profession of “sanitation engineer.” But humor aside, most kids don’t have enough world experience to know what they want to do, and it’s dangerous to track them into a career as such an early age. We should be exposing kids to a wide range of careers so that they see they have choices, and we should make sure that they aren’t self-selecting out of career options (like computer science) too early. But more important: we should make sure that they receive an education that gives them options, not foregone conclusions.
This proposal just seems silly to me. This has nothing to do with the problems at the root of the educational crisis in this country. Shouldn’t they be focusing on improving the quality of teaching and learning in the classes themselves, rather than focusing on which classes people take? Isn’t this legislation just a weapon of mass distraction?