Ask an 8-year-old this Sunday what he wants to be when he grows up and you might hear “a star running back for the Green Bay Packers” (or the Pittsburgh Steelers). Or maybe, if he or she is more focused on the halftime show: “A rock star like the Black Eyed Peas!”
How would you respond? Probably something on the order of, “Aww, isn’t that cute.”
But get the same response from, say, a 13-year-old and I did once, when I visited an alternative school in Brockton, Mass., and talked to a 5-foot, 98-poundish student who wanted to be a pro basketball player — and your reaction would be more like: “Isn’t that sad and deluded.”
Truth is, schools need to do a better job of preparing students for careers as well as higher education. And this week the Harvard Graduate School of Education released a report outlining just how it thinks it should be done.
One big supporter is Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
“I start with the basic premise that it is the responsibility of K-12 educators to prepare all students for both college and a career,” Duncan said in a speech this week. “This must be both/and,’ not either/or.’ High school graduates themselves not the educational system should be choosing the postsecondary and career paths they want to pursue.”
A great idea, but what’s the track record for schools in preparing students for careers? A mixed one, notes Education Week‘s Catherine Gewertz in the Curriculum Matters blog.
What’s another way to improve career education and, indeed, all education? “Stop driving out good teachers,” says University of Georgia Professor Peter Smagorinsky, quoted on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Get Schooled blog. In this witty and quite opinionated piece, Smagorinsky muses about how today’s test-crazy education leaders would have reacted to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount Speech. Hint: Think multiple choice.
“I suspect that neither (here he’s referring to Jesus and Socrates) would last long as the test-administering functionary required by Duncan.”
I think “Ouch” is the proper (and clichéd) response.
Finally, thank Alexander Russo’s “This Week in Education” for alerting us to the return of Patrick Riccard’s satirical “Edu-Pundit” on YouTube. Very clever. Very funny
but scarily close to reality? See for yourself.
Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor