Achievement 101

Our society keeps pushing achievement including Advanced Placement classes lower and lower and we have more kids wanting to attend the community college for advancement in high school. Some freshman are already in AP Art History.  I didn’t know that.  What I did know is that every year students take PreCalculus in the summer so they can be in AP Calculus AB as sophomores or juniors. And they want to take Spanish 101 in order to move to Spanish III Honors skipping Spanish II.

Wait a minute! Spanish 101 is a college class and so is PreCalculus. Why do they use a college class to return and take high school classes?  Is high school getting in the way?  Is high school even relevant any more?  Should some kids just go to community college now?  Are kids really that different than 40 years ago?

I get the “glass ceiling” thing ever since I heard a brilliant adult graduate of the high school I worked at talk about it and how he took all the math he could and he aced it but when he got to college he found out that some of his freshmen peers were in graduate level math.  He had to play catch up when he didn’t want to and wouldn’t have needed to. But how many people are like him?

I think the problem is that everyone is supposed to be gifted now or there is something wrong with them.  What happened to the bell curve?  Or is it the bell bulge at the far right?  When everyone wants their kid at the top and everyone’s kid isn’t that academically and intellectually brilliant or isn’t developmentally ready, we have problems.  We have kids with mental health issues…depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

And now, in our hurry as students and parents to be the best, it has become harder and harder to be the best as we ratchet classes down to younger and younger students. Somehow the magical thinking parents have (and I have been there) has them believing that if their kid just tries hard enough or tries harder, they can get it.  I’m wondering if AP classes in 8th grade are right around the corner. My non original thought is that if a high school student is truly ready for college work, maybe they should be in college or maybe take a college class as a senior, but not 14 year olds.

It was less than ten years ago when the first AP class you could take at my school was in junior year.  Then high schools began to offer AP European History in lieu of World History Honors.  We offered AP Euro back then but it was taken by seniors who loved history.  At my previous high school, we had a girl who graduated from high school and community college at the same time.  We oohed and ahhed at that one, but is it a good thing?

We know there’s more to growing up well than harder and harder course work and degrees at a younger age.  Teenagers have a lot of tasks to do, major tasks.  This is not for everyone nor is it for most.  They will break down.  Stop the nuttiness.  The emperor has no clothes.

 

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