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Thursday, September 04, 2003


Crawford Kilian

You've reminded me of a column I wrote years ago in which I pointed out that the working conditions of high school students would probably be illegal (and certainly counterproductive) in the adult workplace:

physically constricted workspace
lack of control over work assignments and working conditions
limited permission to speak with supervisors and co-workers; almost no permission to criticize the system
likelihood of verbal abuse from co-workers
likelihood of assault by co-workers
likelihood of creation of a poisoned work environment through bullying by supervisors and co-workers

These are hallmarks of sweatshops, prisons, and third-world armed forces, and it's amazing that we tolerate them in North American schools. Even more amazing that despite these dismal conditions, so many students do as well as they do.


Though things have changed and are constantly changing when it comes to the HS experience, it is important to remember why things are changing. The volume of information has grown even from when I graduated in '98. I remember putting in a lot of hard work in HS, but it was doable. The workplace and the world in general is now more competitive. Getting a college degree almost means nothing in many fields. Masters and Doctorate degrees are increasingly becoming necessary to enter into more competitive arenas.

This is why it's important that HS get kids ready for what is inevitably waiting for them. Like it or not, making a living now is harder than it was in the past. The discipline and work ethic that is encouraged in HS through the "demanding" schedule is especially considering that in university life the structure of the system requires a lot of self-motivation to get work done.

My sister is a sophomore now and when I see the homework that she has to do I don't feel sorry for her, raher I'm glad that she's learning how to manage time with juggling clubs, band, and her schoolwork. It will serve her well in the future and when she looks back she'll thank these same teachers that she may begrudge now...just like I did.


Such great points -- thanks for your insights. It takes a great teacher to truly understand the challenges of their students, and these are just the big-picture barriers that they're all dealing with! Reminds me how relaxing and focused the working world is in comparison.


Ok, I am not sure if I am in the right place, or even if this site is still up and running. I'm sorry if I am screwing any web log message board thing up or whatever, but I stumbled on this site and I thought maybe I could get some help here. I am a college student, and I am researching banned books. My big question that has come up in my research is how to teach a challenged book. How do we, as teachers, get around the taboo's of teaching a book that has been challenged in our school? Do we just do away with it, is there a specific procedure, or is it more of a "here are some helpful hints" type of thing? Any comments, or even anywhere you could point me would be greatly appreciated!


Oh, brother. School has its challenges, sure...but give me a break. Kids have short attention spans as it is, so "switching gears" is not the problem you present it as. Furthermore, I assure you that dropouts have it much worse...high school's a breeze compared to the real world. Name a single job that gives you six breaks a day and a lunch period that can't be taken away or that is definitely work-free, guaranteed...As far as the retention of information goes? It depends on the individual student's desire to learn and retain (e.g., you really wanted to learn German, therefore you paid attention and made the commitment to actually retain that information and process it all), as well as the teachers' presentation of material. It has nothing to do with horrible school conditions. That whole idea is just plain ridiculous. If you want to really discuss bad "working conditions," talk about working in a friggin' cubicle!









































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