Second, there wasn't any critique of the subject intended in yesterday's prose poem (my only poetic tendency). Instead I conceived of it as a rather neutral portrayal of people I'm familiar with but with whom I've never identified. Teaching helps you learn that education isn't for everyone. The type of kids I'm talking about there will never need an education beyond enough math for personal finance and enough reading skills to read the paper. They're miserable in school and they'd be miserable in jobs that require a college education. Sure, you see blue collar types who regret the path they've taken or hate their jobs, but that's the same for educated people as well.
I'm dubious of schemes that call for all children to be educated equally. Not everyone has the ability, need or desire for it. What good are we doing forcing them to work at subjects that are only going to make them feel inadequate when they won't benefit them in the future? And despite what most of us were taught, not taking your education to its fullest extent isn't something to be looked down upon. Sure, it's a shame when someone with the ability and desire falls through the cracks like some of my students too bright for the future they're headed for, but what's the shame in working as a welder in some machine shop when the work is something you like and when you're happy to bring home enough to provide for a family, but not necessarily living in a huge house with a luxury car in the drive. I'm happy to not have a huge house and a fat wallet, but I'm not sure I'd have been happy without education. I long to continue it even now when doing so doesn't bring with it a huge advantage in career options. It would have been a melancholy tale for a kid like me or Courtney to never have made it to college, although I admit that after having actually worked in a machine shop as a teen, I would have actually been happier with the work than most of what I've done since.
Meaghan's right that we need these types of people, but they also need to be allowed to take those paths without shame or pity. We should encourage those with the academic ability, especially those pairing the ability with desire, to further their education, but I think we're wasting the time of a large portion of population who find no personal fulfillment in education and no realistic benefit in education to the level they're forced to attempt. Instead of expecting kids in danger of dropping out to learn Trigonometry, they could be working on job skills that will help them make more money in the future. In Georgia, they're changing the curriculum so that every high school student takes college preparatory-level classes regardless of their career path after school with only a separate track for those who will take Advanced Placement track classes. I can't see this doing a whole lot of good to balance out the increased drop out rate I think it will bring. Sure it'll benefit a lot of those kids who shouldn't have been in the Tech/Career tracks by forcing them to see that they keep up with the "smart" kids just fine and perhaps giving them confidence to take their education past high school, but you're going to make it easier for most of the kids in my tech classes to make that decision to head out the door before graduation even easier. Still, in Georgia, taking the tech track wasn't an educational dead end. You're still qualified for admittance to college, especially if you take a path through a local junior college before heading to the larger campus of a major university. The financial barrier has also be significantly lowered here with the HOPE scholarship. I just don't see the point in pretending we're all just as smart as everyone else and forcing kids who just don't have those abilities to try to be something they aren't. We should be willing that not everyone is going to get the deeper meaning in literature, solve calculus problems, or understand the underlying trends that led to major historical developments. Wouldn't it make more sense to identify these students strengths and interests and give them a chance to advance their knowledge and experience in those areas instead of wasting their time the way most of high school does for them now?As for the puppy simile, that wasn't insulting them specifically. People always behave like animals when acting as a group.