As his students head toward high school, Carl Bosch wants them all to recognize the opportunities they’ll have.
I’ve spent the last week prepping 8th graders for high school articulation. It’s a pretty intense 45 minute session. They learn totally new vocabulary words like “prerequisite” and “elective”. They’ll have more instruction and lots of decisions to make in the month ahead. Visits by high school counselors, course selection forms to fill out, parent open houses at the high school. The future is coming on quickly, eight months down the road and ready or not, it’s like a bowling ball tossed down the hardwood. It’s rolling hard and fast, right at them.
I talk to my students about their recommendations. Teachers will decide whether they’re in Honors classes in Math, English, and Science. Talk about tracking, this is the real thing. I hit them hard, but honestly, with the concept that this is based on their performance. No more talk about “potential” or “give them the opportunity”. They need a B+ or better, or there’s no chance for Honors. I give a real life example. The New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl this weekend. One significant reason is because the Baltimore Raven place kicker failed at the only job that he’s hired to do. He missed the opportunity to tie the game as time expired. His performance was lacking. He failed. They lost.
The high school offers an amazing amalgam of opportunities for learning. A large, comprehensive public high school has to meet the needs and interests of a wide variety of young individuals. I try to instill in my students a level of interest and a bit of passion about their next four years. In addition to regular core subjects, wouldn’t you love to return to high school and have the opportunity to take courses like “Movie Production”, “Performance Studio”, ”Youth and the Law”, “Crime Scene Forensics”, “Interior Design”, “The Supernatural in Literature”, “Creative Writing Workshop”, “Advertising”, “Entrepreneurship”, and “Culinary Arts”. I think I would avoid “Multivariable Calculus” and “Advanced Placement Physics”, but it’s there for the student who wants it.
Let’s vow that we’re going to try and help kids find the connecting rod between effort and competency. Mind you, I didn’t say the nexus of intelligence and entitlement. Let’s try to show kids (and have us believe it) that being a good mechanic, carpenter, electrician, store owner is just as valid as a banker, bond trader, lawyer or teacher. We may need our brightest to be surgeons and researchers, but we need a lot of other people who really know what they’re doing and are valued for doing exactly that. Going to college is not the answer for everyone. Not by a long shot.
Just like that bowling ball fast approaching the pins we’ll see how these young people score in their high school future. Some are well equipped, about to throw a strike or spare. Some have poor technique, little mastery, no commitment. They’re just trying to avoid gutter balls. Some are standing outside in the parking lot, hoping a ride comes by so they don’t even have to bother with the bowling.
They’ve all got choices. I hope they realize it and start to make some good ones.
10,079 days down, 96 left