High School Prepares Students for Failure

Disclaimer: The following write-up is targeted largely at the workings of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith area school district. I cannot claim to know as much about what goes on in other districts though much of what I have to say may still apply.

It’s become a mantra within the secondary school teaching community, to claim that what they do is done to prepare students for their post-secondary careers and educations. To an extent, it is not one without evidence. Indeed any teacher can point to an old student who has gone on to success and say, “I taught them. I prepared them. I made them who they are today,” and that student will ineffably vouch for them. Yet the system is changing, in a manner most certainly not for the better.

Once upon a time, school taught students the importance of meeting deadlines, of producing quality work, of maintaining productivity and efficiency. Now, those values lie not forgotten, but ignored, left on the roadside to be trampled into obscurity. The due date has become a suggestion, quality work is optional, and productive use of time is something to be mocked. Yet in the real world, the high school suggestion is a rule, quality work is expected, and productivity and efficiency is demanded. What does this contrast between two conflicting sets of values mean? Many high school students will be completely, utterly, screwed.

The results, of course, will not be as bad as I’m portraying them. The human race has always been an adaptable one, and we would not be fit to survive if we could not adapt to a sudden clash in values. That does not mean we should be making this transition from school to work and university more difficult for our future generations then it needs to be. The experience of leaving one’s home to live on their own is difficult enough. We do not need to be making it harder.

All this being said, to solve these issues for the future, we must first identify the root(s) of the problem. I do not doubt that some will not hesitate to shift the blame to our teaching faculty. They are, after all, the ones most directly involved with our children’s education. Such a motion however, would be largely incorrect, for it is not the teacher who is at fault, but rather, the bureaucratic overlords who govern the system. For while it may be the teacher’s enforcement, or rather lack of enforcement, that promotes these corrupted values, it is the taskmasters up high that give them no say in the matter. They demand the abolishment of due dates and the praise of sloppily done work, while claiming punishment for misbehavior to be barbaric. They may quest for student equality, but was once a noble goal has been twisted so as to bring all students down to the same level rather than up. It is at the top of the ladder where they claim mediocrity to be success, and it is here that change must happen if we wish to seize a stronger future for the coming generations. There must be community involvement within the workings of the schoolboard if we wish to maintain some form of control over insuring the proper education of our children, and the bureaucratic workings of the system must be laid to rest if we wish to have any say in their future.

If action is not taken, this downward trend may continue, and if it does, we may reach a point where the generations of our future are no longer able to adapt to the real world. When this happens, the situation will truly be dire.