The Only Thing High About High School Is…

I think it is time to bring our educational institutions into the 21st century. It seems that not a lot has changed in that area since my high school years back in the 1960s, except that none of us had backpacks then, and we spent more time in the classroom. This post is about the first thing that needs to change in this area.

First of all, let me complete the sentence in the title above:

The only thing high about high school is maybe the proliferation of drugs.

No, this post is not about drugs in high school, it is more about the name itself. There is simply nothing “high” about high school. Yeah, in 1505 when the phrase was invented getting twelve years of education would have been considered a very high achievement, but now it should only be considered the beginning of that process. Tragically, there are still far too many who believe it is the end of their education.

What will it take to bring education into this century?

The first thing that needs to change is the word itself.

High school just isn’t high anymore, it is more of the beginning, not the end. We should be renaming our education years. Let’s keep the phrase “primary” school as it does mean getting education in the very basic parts of what we need to know. It’s about learning to read and write and do some basic mathematical calculations. It’s about learning to get along in a group and learning “Life’s rules”.

It’s about the beginning stages of deciding our life’s purpose. Most of the guys in my generation wanted to be firemen at an early stage of our life. We loved the giant red trucks with the bright lights and sirens. But of course that was only a first attempt. There would be many more life purposes in the later years.

So, let’s keep the “Primary” to mean the first six years of our education.

Then there are the middle years, those we spend during our teenage time. These are the ones where we hone our characters. We make more serious decisions about what we want to do with our lives. Some choose to serve humanity. They choose to be doctors, nurses, teacher social workers and other like fields In other words those who serve the greater good.

Some are attracted to the arts. Those are the ones who entertain us, help us realize our dreams. And then some of us choose to be the inventors. These are the middle years so let’s call them that.

Then there is college where we start to gather the real skills to do our chosen profession. Our initial college years make up the last four to eight years of full time education.

Finally, there are the “maintenance” years. These are years that we return to the educational process to upgrade to the latest knowledge available in our chosen fields. These years continue for our remaining life. Some of these maintenance years might also include a drastic shift in our work lives where we choose a completely different field.

High School just isn’t high anymore, and we should quit thinking that it is.

2 comments

  1. If high school was modified, for some, it could be the beginning of a very bright road. I knew a 40 yr old immigrant from Austria. His high school actually taught him to be a certified electrician by the time he graduated. If he had chosen to stay in that field he could have made a good income and never gone to school again. Maybe some short courses to keep up with changes over time. In his case he aspired for more education and went into electronics. He ended up being the owner of a company that refurbishes semiconductor manufacturing equipment.
    College is not for everyone. In England you took a test at a very young age to determine which educational track you would pursue, trades or college. We do need the ability for all who qualify to continue education. We also need an education system that trains the workers of tomorrow. Electricians, masons, plumbers, AC techs, auto techs, heavy machinery operators, machinists & many more could all be finished by the end of high school. Going to college for those folks would be a waste of time and money. Most high schools are useless at turning out anyone ready to begin a good paying career immediately. That is because we are assuming everyone needs to go to college. It does not have to be that way. We need two tracks.

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  2. Thanks for the thoughts Fred. But I agree on some of your words but disagree on others. I don’t think high schools should be teaching technical trades but I do think students should be able to get a “taste” of them so see if they might be interested in pursuing that occupation. I just think there are so now many more opportunities than I, or probably you, had that they need the time to cover the field and still give the students some training in life issues. Such things as being a responsible citizen, treating others with respect, truth, trust, and morality need to be the central issue.

    As in our years, tech schools exist for training in many different fields. We have a very large school about 30 miles away for training nurses and healthcare workers. Many take advantage of them but they do cost quite a bit of money for someone working at minimum wage of $7.25 in Indiana.

    College for me was such an eye-opening thing. I imagine I would be a quite different person if I had not experienced those years. I think the primary thing was to show me just how diverse the world is and secondly how to think for myself. Even in the 1970s I can’t say that the technical sutff I learned there was helpful in my occupation more than a few years. Things were changing that fast even then and today that change is orders of magnitude higher.

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