12.28.2010

Is it wrong to expect kids to go to college?

Yesterday while driving around town, hubs and I were talking about college. Why? No idea. We got on the conversation about schools not preparing students for what they need. I take offense to that as a teacher, but then when I look out of my own little box, I have to agree sometimes. Many kids aren't getting what they need out of school and are falling through the cracks. And, we are expecting too much from some kids who are doing the best they can do.

In my mind, my daughter will go to college after high school and get a great job. Hubs wants her to go to vet school, I just want her to do something that she wants to do. She's 4, it will change often in the coming years! For me, going to college wasn't something that was pushed upon me by my parents. I did OK in high school, but it wasn't fabulous. I didn't care. I wasn't rebelious, I just didn't care about high school. I wasn't popular, wasn't one of the pretty, skinny girls, I was just there. I played soccer and swam on the swim team, but those aren't sports or activities that make you popular. I wasn't outgoing, which was why I was the way I was. But, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. And to do that, I had to go to college, come hell or high water. And I did that. In 4 short years, I graduated college and started teaching.

Anyway, back to my thoughts. In my mind, I am trying to prepare my first graders for the possibility of college. I want them to aspire to going to college and getting the good jobs. I want them to see that there is more out there than what their parents have. I hope for all of them that is the case, but I know it's not the reality. Most of the kids we teach aren't going to go to college. Most will barely make it through high school, if they stay in the country long enough to do it. I guess I have never really thought about it that much, but now that I do, it makes me sad. The kids I have now will grow up and do what? Sure, there are some who will go to school and be succesful, but not all. And for those that don't go to college, what will they do?

Our schools prepare kids for the college track. They work on reading, writing and math for ever, but they do it in the later years with stuff that doesn't make sense in life. I had to read Romeo and Juliet and it didn't change my life. It didn't help me be a better student. It killed some time in class. And don't get me started on math. I am lucky I can teach the 1st grade math! My hubby believes that we should teach kids based on what they want or will be able to do later in life. Since not all kids are college bound, there should be more life skills classes or job training classes. Europe has some of the right ideas, really. Kids go to school for the things they are able to do and want to do rather than to take some arbitrary classes in English when they can't write a sentence.

My friend at work has a son in high school. He is taking 7 classes. He is on the "college track", but he isn't doing well. He is in AVID, which is to help kids get ready for college. They push and push them to do more than they can, and then the grades suffer. But on the flipside, they kids who don't have a chance of going to school are given the easier classes with nothing expected from them except to graduate and work at McDonald's. Why aren't we pushing them to do more? Why aren't we giving them more classes to help them out to be better?

I don't know what the answer is. I feel so hopeful with my kids, but then I think about my first group of first graders who are now turning 19 and I wonder how many are doing anything meaningful with their lives. How many actually graduated high school? How many are in school? I have always hoped that I impress upon my kids the value of education and how important it is that they learn to read and write and do math, just so they can survive. I don't think the kids see anything wrong with having ot translate for their parents at conferences when they are 6 and 7 and they think it's normal. I don't think they kids see that their parents lives could have been better if they knew how to read - in any language. I don't think the kids see what they have been given with learning.

I guess I will always be an optomist with my kids and hope for the best. I can hope that they will take something away from my class and remember how hard I wanted them to work and do their best. I can hope that in the coming grades, they work hard and learn and are successful in their learning. I can hope they stay in this country and continue their education. I can hope they make it to high school and graduate. I can hope they decide to go to college and make something of themselves. And deep down, I hope that this all comes true and that the others are wrong. Sadly, I think I am the one who is wrong, but I won't tell myself that just yet!

I don't know if this makes sense to anyone else, but I hope it does.

1 comment:

  1. I teach 4th grade, and have a 6th grade son who will likely go to college. I think we should prepare all kids to go to college IF that is their wish. However, I think the attitude that if kids don't go to college, they can't make something of themselves is the problem. I cringe when I see "Welcome, future college graduates!" on the door of one of my fellow elementary teachers. In the name of creating opportunity for kids, we're creating an atmosphere of shame for kids who may choose a different path. My brother (and we are still youngish) got his GED because he didn't fit the mold. No college. He's brilliant, though. He's the VP of a company, loves his work, and makes great $$$. There are many in our family who fit that non-traditional profile. Why can't we honor a broader spectrum of choices?

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