Mandatory High School Attendance to 18 years?

President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

I just heard about President Obama’s proposal for all states
to require mandatory high school attendance to age 18-years old. It’s
currently16-years old in most states.


I can’t help but gasp at the understanding gap–make that understanding
gulch–between those who have enough of the right
to graduate from high school and those who don’t. In spite of the
fact that many who did make it through say it was boring and that ultimately
they “just learned how to play the game teachers wanted them to play,” most of
them are ardent supporters of the system. Politicians are making laws to shore
up the system and take standardized tests that they couldn’t pass the standardized
tests they think kids should be taking. Most teachers, comfortable themselves with
reading and rote learning, are still insisting that the best way to educate all
of our young people is to keep them at desks with their noses in books, giving them
exams, handing out grades, and berating those who aren’t “living up to their
potential.” Parents who had absolutely horrendous experiences in school pressure
their kids unmercifully to excel in the same system that was so painful for
them. What are we thinking, folks?


Let’s get something straight, for the school system there is
right stuff and wrong stuff, and most students know fully well what they’ve got.
Those with the wrong stuff are the
dropouts. So, I ask President Obama and Arne Duncan, who is likely behind this
recommendation, What are you going to do
differently in those extra two years of high school with these kids who have
the wrong stuff? Mr. President, these kids with the wrong stuff populate our
prisons, roam the streets, enroll in home school programs by the thousands and
will continue to do so until the system figures out how to respect and
facilitate learning for all of its learners rather than expect all of its
learners to fit the system. If you don’t have a plan for these students who
don’t have the right stuff, please do not prolong their misery.


The Right Stuff

In the school system there is definitely the right stuff, and there are two kinds of
it. Students can be assured of doing well academically if they have a natural
disposition for planning ahead, organizing, getting work done on a schedule, being
interrupted every hour to change classes, reading, writing, math, sitting
quietly at a desk, and listening for long periods of time. Eight to ten percent
of learners have this combination of traits and skills. And, as much as it is
considered politically incorrect to speak of it, there is great concern for the
social skills of these students. These kids, although loved by teachers, are
often disliked by classmates and take the brunt of their teasing, jokes, and


The other kind of right
is social. These kids have a natural disposition for group
activities, hanging out, chatting, gossiping, making friends. When you ask them
what they like about school they will tell you either “recess” or “my friends”.
They are most engaged by school when clustered in small groups in hallways —
before and after school, between classes, and at lunch. They are the kids who
use their cell phones the most and take it personally if they aren’t allowed to
use them. Some of these kids are talented athletically and enhance their social
status by becoming well known throughout the school. Parents and teachers are
often greatly concerned about the academic development of many of these socially
motivated students. These kids often hear how “they are not living up to their
potential.” However, these students hang in and perform well enough to stay in,
because school is the place where their belonging needs are met. These kids
make up about 20-25% of students.


The Wrong Stuff

There are two kinds of wrong
, as well. You are likely to be misunderstood and to have a difficult
time in school if you are a student with any combination of this wrong stuff: you think into things
deeply; ask questions; like a hands on approach to learning — to take things
apart and put them together again; like to construct your own understanding of how
the world works; enjoy spending long periods of time on one subject; learn best
by doing projects; like problem solving, invent things; want to use your imagination
to create in art, music, literature, poetry, and/or dance.


There is another kind of learner who has the wrong stuff for school and who often
suffers greatly from severe punishment in an attempt to teach him or her the right stuff. These students, sometimes
known as the “class clowns” are born entertainers. They like to have fun, often
have a great sense of humor, and enjoy taking center stage. Other students
often enjoy their antics, at least to some degree. These students with highly developed
performing skills have a lot to contribute to a classroom. However, the way
classrooms are currently managed there isn’t a way for these students to be
constructive participants, so we often find them sitting outside the classroom
door or on a bench waiting to see the principal.


These two categories of kids with the wrong stuff account for 55-60% + of our learners. And, these are
the kids who are dropping out of school in droves.

Every day at the LearningSuccess™ Institute we see or
hear about the suffering of these students and their families. They inspired us
to write Discover Your Child’s Learning
and Midlife Crisis Begins in
. They inspire us to continue to develop systems, strategies,
and materials that support all learners to have successful and meaningful
learning experiences–and to become constructive contributors of their unique
gifts and talents to their families and communities.

by Victoria Kindle Hodson, copyright 2012 by Willis & Hodson, Reflective Educational Perspectives LLC – we customize
learning programs to meet individual student needs

Join our newsletter list and get your free downloadable gift: our ebook, Midlife Crisis Begins in Kindergarten!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *