Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Purpose of a High School Education?

On Sunday (9/23/2012), I was loosely observing the NBC News Education Nation postings on Facebook.  In the course of the day, a poll was posted that asked about the purpose of high school education.  Specifically, the question was:

What is the primary focus of your high school education?

A.  To learn how to learn
B.  To get into college
C.  To prepare for a job
D.  To learn how to be a citizen

Yesterday (9/24/2012) morning, I checked Education Nation's Facebook page for the results.  The screen shot below is what I saw (6:00 am, EST).


As stated in the post, the answers were provided by the Student Town Hall audience.  So, I am left to assume the respondents were all students (hopefully all high school students, given the question).  However, given the choices, I am not shocked at the results.

Now, I want to avoid reading too far into the results, for no other reason than the poll itself is so unscientific that it cannot be used to generalize the feelings of all high school students, but it does present a possible nugget of insight.

If you look at the results, 77% of the respondents associated their high school experience with either learning or going to college (which can be viewed as more learning).  While getting a job and being a good citizen may be related to learning, they are less "immediate" in the minds of most students.  Therefore, while important, students may not see the connection between learning in school and being an employed citizen.

If I had a chance to amend this poll, I would start by adding another choice - E.  All of the above - or changing the multiple choice format to a "Check All That Apply" type of question.  The results of THAT poll to the student audience would be more interesting to me.  When asked to choose one item, I can't argue that one is better than the other.  Therefore, since I can't argue in favor of one choice over the others, having to choose one doesn't make much sense.

Maybe the primary focus of high school education (or just about any education) is to learn how to learn in a manner that builds a passion and appreciation for developing the skills and knowledge essential for success in college and/or the work force while preparing you to ethically contribute to the greater good of society.

I would choose E.  All of the above.
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