Our post last week, “Why Not a 14 or 15 Grade to Better Prepare Our Students for the Real World?” elicited fairly strong responses from our LinkedIn readers. To be clear, the title was rhetorical, which some people seemed to get and others . . . not so much. We do not favor adding more years to the high school degree, even if it includes a first year of community college study. Not surprisingly, nearly all responses were also opposed to adding additional years to high school. We’re glad to see such passionate responses and thought it would be useful to present a summary and highlights of recommendations for improving the educational experience for this and future generations of learners.There’s some great ideas here.
There were a wide range of backgrounds and professions represented by the people who chose to comment on the article. Of the 71 people who commented, 18 are identified as teachers or involved in the field of education, 5 are students, 3 lawyers, 2 involved in law enforcement; and the rest in a range of industries from healthcare to software development either as practitioners, managers, or business owners.
We divided the comments into the following categories to best summarize the recommendations readers made in response to the blog. Those comments that did not contain a specific recommendation were categorized as “Miscellaneous.” Some comments could have gone into more than one category but were counted in just one.
All comments can be reviewed as part of the original post.
Provide More Real World Practice
Twenty-six of the reader comments called for more real-world practice being incorporated into the curriculum, and in some of those cases, less time in the classroom and more time out in the real world. Some readers called out the difference between “education” and “training” and called for more hands-on learning, starting earlier on in the process. Specific recommendations included high school ”co-op” programs in partnership with local businesses, more time spent on volunteering/service, apprenticeship programs, and travel.
Three comments focused specifically on the need for training in finance (while finance was referenced as part of several other responses as well).
Fix the Curriculum
There were 19 comments that called for changing the way the current system works as opposed to adding on to it. Not all of these comments included specific recommendations, but those that did called for less time on tests and more on building critical thinking skills; the need to introduce college prep earlier on in the process; less repetition of content; and more practical classes, such as first aid, CPR, map reading, and managing finances.
Look at the Ontario 13 Year
Seven readers referenced the 13 year (or “Ontario Academic Credit”) in place in Ontario schools from 1921 until 2003. While some comments regarding the OAC were positive, noting the benefits of the extra time and attention to prepare for more advanced study, others claimed that the extra time did not adequately prepare them for university. OAC was discontinued due to a lack of funding.
Decrease, Not Increase, the Number of Years
Four readers specifically called for fewer years of compulsory education, in one case replacing one or two years with apprenticeships; in another, substituting the final year or two with trade school if that is the student’s choice. Another recommendation was made to remove eliminate summer break and cut down the required years to ten.
Very few people are looking to lengthen the number of years that our kids spend in high school, but everyone feels improvements need to be made in the current framework. While a few people specifically recommended fewer years than what we now require, most people are looking to enhance the experience that kids have by adding more experiential, practical and hands-on learning. Many people also advocate more time out of the classroom, participating in internships, apprenticeships, or co-op programs. Financial literacy was also a popular theme.
We really appreciate all the comments and in particular the specific recommendations people had for improving the education of today’s and tomorrow’s learners. Stay tuned to Designs2Learn for more on designing learning for the changing educational landscape.