My twelve-year-old niece recently made a remark to me that most kids her age usually do: She complained that she’s learning things in school she’ll probably never use. I, of course, observed the very same thing when I was her age.
And, truth be told, the kids ought to win this argument. It is a waste of their time and our resources to force feed school kids any knowledge that isn’t necessary in order for any of us to live as independent adults in society. This it not to say that learning should be stopped at that early stage–sixth grade, perhaps–only that the earlier the truly vital lessons are taught, the better prepared to be contributing members of society those who later drop out would be. And fewer likely would, as teachers could better prevail upon the students the tangible benefits of learning itself, by virtue of these manifestly relevant subjects.
Let them learn:
Advanced Reading and Writing. (of course)
Basic, “Checkbook” Algebra.
Media-supported Current Events–incorporating Geography, Social Studies, Government and Basic U.S. and World History.
General, “Cause and Effect” Sciences.
Health and Fitness.
And that’s it.
After sixth grade, students would to be free to learn whatever interests them–flowing from one elective classroom to the next. Teachers who couldn’t draw students to their lectures might then have to find another line of work–like principal.
Most of us suspect that grades mean next to nothing anymore as it is–assuming they ever did. Yet we could still give high school kids SAT tests. Only we would then be measuring more so their interest in learning than their aptitude for following our rules.