Apparently, Boston Legal is determined to annoy me this season.
In a story line about the suicide of a high school student overwhelmed by demands for performance, the lawyer in her closing ranted about how schools are at fault and should limit the activities of students. Outcome-based education, she said, was only interested in an end product–a student prepared for the dog-eat-dog competitive world–not the process of learning.
That I don’t disagree with. I don’t know how kids today keep up with the overscheduling of activities, classes, sports and clubs, with no free time for either themselves or their parents. The part that grabbed me was that lawyer’s insistence that Advanced Placement classes be abandoned, “because we don’t need college classes in high schools.”
Now wait a minute.
I confess I am a product of Advanced Placement classes in English, Chemistry, Biology and American History. My daughter attended gifted classes from the time she was six and actually took two classes at the local private college her senior year, paid for by the high school. We both needed to be challenged in a way that the regular high school curriculum couldn’t handle. In an age when teachers are often teaching to the lowest common denominator, No Child Left Behind means the upper academic levels, too!
However, our parents and our peer group did not insist we had to be acceptable to Harvard or Princeton. All we had to do was use our best ability to learn and do well in whatever we chose. I went to Kent State (after the National Guard), and my daughter to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I still went to law school. Thank the heavens I don’t work on Wall Street; I’d hate it. She’s going to be a fine chef. We’re better for the education we were encouraged to have.
Let’s hope school systems across the country don’t take this to heart and continue the trend we’ve seen over the last decade of cutting gifted programming to serve the at-risk kids because of limited funding. These kids are our best and brightest, and if we don’t keep them engaged, what will the next generation become?