A very busy summer made posting here a low priority. Part of the summer work was preparing my two boys for their journey into the next level of schooling – high school for my younger son and college for my older.
My older son is the high-performing kid and my younger is high-functioning autistic; so I get the full educational spectrum from Advanced Placement to Special Education. I always joke that between then I have one normal kid. I want to stress that that is a joke. I love both my sons dearly and revel in the unique people that they are.
The high school my younger son is attending is the same as his brother, so we all know what to expect. However, I realized that I had to educate my older son on college concepts such as:
- the difference between California State University system and University of California system; including requirements for entry
- the semester system versus the year system
- class credit units
- lecture courses and lab courses
Since he started high school, my older son has been encouraged to attend a local community college since he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. I made the same choice 30+ years ago; it was a great time to discover what I was passionate about while completing my general education. I thought he would have time to try different classes while completing his general ed, but I found out that this is not the case anymore.
In today’s rush to get kids through school these colleges now want them to declare a major so the counselors can help them target their general ed for which university they want to attend. I’m not very pleased by this concept since it pushes kids to make lifelong choices with little information or experience. What happens when he transfers to his 4-year school then decides he wants a completely different major? When did “general” education become “specific” education?
The difference in his experience versus my experience is part and parcel of “they don’t do it that way anymore” syndrome. Us parents recall fond memories of our college days and believe that things still work the same way; then we find out how things have changed since we were in school. I was prepared for online registration and e-books (which I wish I had back in the 80s), but the notion of “declare a major, pick a 4-year school, and create a designer general ed plan” threw me.
This atmosphere of pushing kids through the system angers me. I felt the same way when my younger son (heck, all the kids) was pushed to read in Kindergarten. Wasn’t that where we were supposed to learn our numbers and letters? Children are just getting used to the concept of “school” and its expectations in Kindergarten, why are they being pushed to read along with all the other stresses? Especially an autistic child who takes longer to process things than the other kids. If my younger son had attended school in the 60s with me, he would have been the “slow” kid and given extra time to get work done.
Fortunately my younger son is in a good program at his high school and does get the time to understand the lessons. Yes, algebra is tough and most of us didn’t like it but my son is at least getting used to the mathematical concepts. As a parent I expect him to do the same as my older son, which is complete his homework assignments and do what is asked of him during class. The amount and depth of the work is different, but the process is the same.