Pick the electives first… then the general education courses.

Written on
March 4, 2018
Peter Hostrawser

Next week my son turns 13.  Yes, I feel old.  He will be going into high school in the next year and a half.  As a high school teacher, I look at the way I am going to respond to the traditional paths that will be thrust upon his schedule.  I know the way counselors push kids into academic courses first then into electives second.  That is not going to be the way it will be done for my son and daughter.

I’m going to have them pick the electives first, then fill in the rest with academic courses.

Here’s why.  Think about when you were back in high school.  So many people I talk to remember the cool projects in art, music, business, foods, and drama classes over the mundane academic courses that don’t always teach authentic topics.  I have yet to hear the more than a few people say “I really loved that Calculus course” or “There was something so invigorating in the AP chemistry class.”

Traditional education is good to a point.  There comes a time in one’s young life for the need to really dive into different ideas and concepts.  Many times I ask my students why they think high school is so boring.  Overwhelmingly I hear the same complaint.

“We do the same thing over and over for four years.”

Let that statement sink in.  It is so true.  This year you are going to learn math, science, history, english, and math.  Next year you are going to learn more science, history, english, and math.  And by the way, the year after that you are going to learn science, history, english, and math.  Oh and another thing, if you are bad at any of those classes, we are going to give you more of it.  That sounds GREAT to me!  (said with a load of sarcasm)

Why don’t we change the narrative to read something like this…  Your first year of high school, you are going to hit the basics of science, history, english, and math.  The second year you are going to get some science, history, english, and math. Four your third and fourth year, you are going to dive into electives of your choice like music, art, business, foods, childcare, nursing, (enter any profession here) and we will attach some science, history, math and science to your learning in those areas.  In other words, your last two years of high school will be made up of applying your knowledge and skills in learning communities.

My son is having him hit the academics the first couple of years then heavy on the electives for his final two years.  I want him to come out of high school with authentic skills and a professional network rather than AP scores and GPAs.

Another way to #disrupteducation

Peter Hostrawser
Creator of Disrupt Education
My value is to help you show your value. #Blogger | #KeynoteSpeaker | #Teacher | #Designthinker | #disrupteducation
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