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Preparing For What?

When our political leaders stand up and pontificate about the American education system, somewhere in their speech will probably be a line about “preparing students for college”.

So, what does that mean?

Roger Schank, a college professor, would like you to know his interpretation of “prepared”.

So, why don’t we consider the professor’s view on this? When I see a new student in a college class, am I concerned he may not know the quadratic formula, the Battle of Hastings, or how to balance a chemical equation?

Of course not.

Preparedness for any class I ever taught would mean knowing how to express oneself in an articulate manner, being able to write clearly, being capable of an original thought, being able to reason logically, and the willingness to work hard to accomplish something.

Schank says that’s not what high schools do because they are too busy with preparing kids for the SATs and other standardized tests.

And the dirty little secret he would like us to know is that professors assume students were poorly prepared by their high schools and start everyone at the beginning.

Please stop confusing getting into college, which has an associated array of silly hoops attached to it, with being prepared for college, which ought not be the role of high school anyway unless it means learning to think critically and be articulate.

high school, college, preparation

1 Comment

  1. Stephen Lazar

    At my school’s staff meetings, someone is always designated to be the “elephant” and their responsibility is to point out the elephant in the room that no one is talking about during conversations. This is a definite elephant question – which is scary, because this really is perhaps the most basic question a school faces.

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