A recent post by one of our elementary principals has been stuck in my head for a couple of days, and I’m not entirely sure why.  It’s about an activity in her school called “College Begins with Kindergarten” in which the kids learned about various “helper jobs” in the community (examples offered: doctors, nurses, teachers).

Now I certainly believe a basic understanding of those roles should be part of the school experience from the very beginning. But then students were asked to consider what they might study in college and to create their own future diplomas, complete with a statement of the subject in which they would major.

While there are two pieces to this assignment that I find troubling, the first is more of a question than a quibble. I wonder if the kids in this particular class were asked to consider more common but less stereotypical “helper jobs”, ones someone in their family might hold, such as plumber, auto mechanic, or store clerk, or even one unique to the DC area, lobbyist.

However, beyond the potential lack of inclusiveness, what bothers me more is that an activity like this seems to be telling kids at the beginning of their formal schooling that college is the only acceptable path to follow at the end of that path, more than a decade later. Are we starting the traditional college-is-the-only-way indoctrination too early, long before kids have any kind of clear understanding of their own talents and interests?

Having never taught elementary students, I’m sure someone can tell me why I’m wrong about this rant.