A Glass of Chianti

Friday, September 23, 2005

Wherein I sound really old

If you want to know where that last post came from, it was spurred on by reading a couple of articles (and being around high schoolers all day ;)). One of them is here and the other I'm (apparently) not able to find right now. The important one is the one linked, but it is really only tangentially related.

I guess my problem with college is twofold:
1) An intensive liberal arts education should be happening earlier in life
and, relatedly,
2) It should be completely divorced from career-path training.

We hear all the time that students are coming to college unprepared, and that we need extensive and expanded remedial programs because high schools aren't doing their jobs. I'm willing to accept that as being true, as far as I can see. Here's one place, though, that I don't think it's wholly the fault of the schools. I blame lots and lots of parents who tell their children that they don't have to grow up. In fact, they go so far as to encourage really stupid behavior because, well, their children need to enjoy being children, right up until the age of 22, when they're finally done with college. Actually, they can continue acting like children and making irresponsible decisions much later, because nothing "really counts until you're older."

Guess what? High school kids are capable of making very good (and bad) decisions. You know what else? They're also quite capable of dealing with the consequences. High schooling, in my opinion (and because we're insistent that adulthood shouldn't start until 34ish), should be away from parents. I'm not talking across-the-country away as, in fact, I think that's a bad idea. I'm talking an hour's drive away. With mandatory weekends back with the parents. You aren't an adult when you're 16, but you should be able to make decisions (away from your parents), deal with the consequences (away from your parents) but come home to a place where the important things in life are.

Also, this way colleges aren't forced to claim that they are the protector and ideal provider of a liberal education. They can become what they are heading toward already - trade schools with distribution credits - in an honest fashion, and with none of the guilty conscience that comes with lying about their mission.

See? Everyone's happy.

The alternative is for parents to stop encouraging their teenagers to act like children. Being a grown-up is a good thing, not something that we resign ourselves to being.