Teal Furnholm

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Put 'em 2 work for the world! A proposal for the US failing high schools

WIth hormones surging and cell phones ringing, and the ever present draw of the computer, the US has fallen behind in maintining the education of our youth. To some extent it seems that the kids in the US are becoming more withdrawn, lazy, and jaded toward the world. The high school students I've talked to agree that it is a waste of time, a flood of information to an already information saturated population (this is the Information Age after all).

I propose that after 2 intensive years of PRACTICAL education, the math/financial/english/health/science necessary to function in the world, we require a year of either 1. volunteer out-of-state/overseas (eg green peace) 2. apprenticeship/internship in a field of interest or 3. military/army corps/public works service.

This is all designed to get kids out of their houses, away from their games and computers, to make new bonds of friendship, to gain a sense of accomplishment, to help improve the US or impoverished countries, to gain practical skills for their own future, and to gain a sense of what hard labor and responsibility will be like.

Hopefully after the year students will be inspired/motivated towards a career, where they can either continue their apprenticeship as their job or take a year of college prepatory courses.

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    Dec 27 2011: Yes, Teal, a year to mature and gain life experience would be very valuable. There have been various ideas about that. I've long favored a year of "national service" after high school, but you may have a point that 4 years of HS straight after 8 or so years of elementary is too much at one go, especially in light of our modern flood-of-information condition.

    It's clear that our educational system has not at all adjusted to the super-information age, in fact the basic "system" hasn't changed much in the past 100 years. So I think everything is on the table when it comes to educational reform, and the idea of a "practical year" has much to recommend it. I also agree that the curriculum needs an overhaul to emphasize useful knowledge. (Though I think that knowledge of history and science are also actually useful.)

    President Kennedy tried to interest young people in "service" by starting the Peace Corps. But he could never get Congress' approval to make it mandatory. My feeling is that everyone today (and not just today) is concerned about getting their rights, while no one talks about one's duty or obligation to the society that ensures those rights. So I think a mandatory year of service is both reasonable and a good thing for the young people involved. A little extra maturation and discipline won't hurt any young person. Of course such service could be served in the armed forces or a variety of beneficial ways.

    By the way, I spend much of each year in Europe, and can report that many or most countries are experiencing the same situation that you describe, as to the lassitude of the students. And they're all struggling to find a way out of the student doldrums.

    Best of luck, and thanks for contributing to discussion about this.
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    Dec 13 2011: Madam,
    Your idea has merit. It would be good for all post high school students to engage in a volunteer activity that will introduce them into life post parental care. There will be many who will not see the benefit and many who will find an epiphine of who they are. May I suggest that they maybe take some time to just think about who they are in the face of the coming life?
    James Turner